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Blogging Kalamazoo 2021 – Session 116 - Dress and Textiles I: Rank and Signifiers

Sunday, May 23, 2021 - 20:59

I had meant to start watching the recorded sessions from Kalamazoo last week, and then my day-job landed on my head, not to let up until 10pm Saturday night when my emergency investigation closed. So I'll be blogging the remaining recorded sessions I have earmarked this week, since the recordings are going away after that.

Dressed to Fail: Textile Signifiers in Medieval Icelandic and Welsh Texts - Dr. Sarah M. Anderson, PhD, Princeton University

The presenter has asked that their paper not be shared on social media. The title and scope has been revised from the version in the schedule.

Chrétien’s Chevalier au lion: Nudity, Tattered Clothes, and the Distress of Undress - Monica L. Wright, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

The presenter has asked that their paper not be shared on social media.

Thresholds of Fashion in the Sixteenth-Century Scottish Court - Melanie Schuessler Bond, Eastern Michigan University

General topic is how clothing represents levels of social status, as reflected in specific garments, fabrics, and dyes. In general, the correlation of garments and status is identified based on known status of specific wearers, but from this, meaningful exceptions can be identified. The data is taken from the accounts of the Regent (the Eral of Arran), and represent garments authorized from his accounts. People of the time had a detailed understanding of fabric and dye values and could interpret people’s status (or claims to it) on that basis.

Men’s “gowns” (garment) correlate with high status. Most men did not receive them. (Chart of distribution of fabric prices for men’s gowns.) The “coat” was a more general garment. Fabric prices are shown again, including distribution relative to the wearer’s rank. There is a general correlation, however notable exceptions are pages wearing expensive fabric to reflect the status of their employer.

Women’s clothing is primarily reflected by upper class individuals and so is somewhat less useful for statistics. (This paper has lots of lovely charts and graphs of data.) Women’s hoods correlated with the highest status. Women’s gowns were not as restricted to higher status in the way that men’s gowns were. A chart of the prices of dyed wools, showing the overall relative value as well as the range of value for each color. More fabric values based on variety within each general fabric type. The most expensive fabrics (e.g., cloth of gold) are not included in the inventory data and restricted to the Regent’s immediate family. Purple garments again appear primarily for the regent’s immediate family, especially in the context of wedding garments.

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