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Whose Clothes Are They Wearing Anyway? Sartorial Exchange, Disguise, and Accumulation in Chaucer's The Clerk's Tale and Dickens's Our Mutual Friend

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abstract
In the material culture of texts, clothing holds a particularly troubled position. A visual and tactile medium, clothing can be veiled by the words that make up texts even as garments play an integral role in defining and constructing characters' identities and physical bodies. Geoffrey Chaucer's The Clerk's Tale and Charles Dickens's Our Mutual Friend both utilize clothing to construct gendered characters through the clothes they wear. By placing these two disparate texts in conversation, I examine the exchange of clothing and how Chaucer and Dickens further this tradition within the father-daughter-husband triangle. Chaucer creates a traditional framework of patriarchal control through the undressing and re-dressing of Grisilde. Dickens expands this tradition by his use of clothing and the actions that surround it to trouble patriarchal authority in the guise of daughters and lovers, whose ability to undress, re-dress, and disguise themselves allows them to appropriate masculine roles of authority and provision. Through sartorial exchange, disguise, and accumulation, characters re-gender clothing in a shared sensibility between male and female, eliding masculine and feminine roles, and questioning the return to the domestic that characterizes both texts.
subject
clothing
disguise
material culture
Our Mutual Friend
sartorial exchange
The Clerk's Tale
contributor
Ernst, Rachel A. (author)
Jenkins, Melissa (committee chair)
Overing, Gillian (committee member)
Harlan, Susan (committee member)
date
2011-07-14T20:36:04Z (accessioned)
2013-07-14T08:30:10Z (available)
2011 (issued)
degree
English (discipline)
embargo
2013-07-14 (terms)
identifier
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/33479 (uri)
language
en (iso)
publisher
Wake Forest University
title
Whose Clothes Are They Wearing Anyway? Sartorial Exchange, Disguise, and Accumulation in Chaucer's The Clerk's Tale and Dickens's Our Mutual Friend
type
Thesis

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