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Considering the period from the beginning of Napoleon III's rule in 1852 to 1889, when the Paris Universal Exhibition displayed veiled North African Muslims and other indigenous colonial peoples, Kessler deftly connects the increased presence of the veil on the streets and on canvas to Haussmann's massive renovation of Paris. A veil was protection for the proper woman from the vices associated with the modern city, preserving-at least on the surface-her femininity and class superiority. Positioning the veil directly at the intersection of feminists, formalist, and social art history, Kessler offers a fresh perspective on period discourses of public health, seduction and sexuality, colonial stereotypes, and, ultimately, an emerging modernity.
About the Author:
Marni Reva Kessler is assistant professor of art history at the University of Kansas