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Title: Dressing to Please Themselves: Clothing Choices for Roman Women
Authors: Harlow, Mary Elizabeth
First Published: 2012
Publisher: Archaeopress
Citation: Harlow, M.E. ‘Dressing to please themselves: clothing choices for Roman Women’ in Harlow, M.E. (ed.) Dress and identity (University of Birmingham IAA Interdisciplinary Series: Studies in Archaeology, History, Literature and Art 2), Copyright © 2012, Archaeopress, pp. 37-46
Abstract: In the modern western world the clothed body is integral to self-representation and identity. For us, this expression of identity through dress implies both agency and a range of available options. An individual can use a dress style that reinforces or resists social stereotypes and, even in societies which have strong cultural rules surrounding dress and the body, there is often the facility to subvert social mores or expectations (Twigg 2007: 286). Here, I want to explore how far Roman women could make choices about how they dressed and whether dress could give them access to a mode of self-representation that transcended the dominant literary and visual discourses – in short, can we uncover a level of female agency in the surviving source material. In examining Roman dress we are constrained by the surviving sources, and in discussing Roman female dress we are further hindered by the lack of a female voice in the relevant literature and, arguably, also in the surviving visual and material culture. The question of agency tends to be side-stepped by discussing Roman female dress in terms of how it reflects, reinforces or rejects social and cultural meanings (see for example Harlow 2004b; Olsen 2002). This chapter will be confined to two aspects: the role of sculpture in providing images to emulate and the act of choice in the question of colour. [Taken from the Introduction]
Series/Report no.: British Archaeological Report, International Series;2356
ISBN: 9781407309422
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Chapter
Rights: Copyright © the authors, 2012. Archived with permission of the publisher.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, School of Archaeology and Ancient History

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