The Cultural History of the Corset and Gendered Body in Social and Literary Landscapes
Keywords:Corset, body, gender, fashion, culture, ideology. 1.
AbstractThis study centers on the significance, uses and changes of the corset in the Western culture and literature through a study of body politics, culture and fashion. The emplacement of corsetry in the West as an undergarment goes back to 1600s. Research shows that the study of corsetry is important as the corset has been a permanent, pervasive, popular object preferred mostly by women from different classes, sometimes by men and even children since the Middle Ages. Moreover, it is important to notice how the corset has gone beyond its use value and has become first a symbol of rank and elegance, then of female oppression and victimization and finally a symbol of sexual empowerment and feminine rebellion in contemporary time. Popular critics of the field state that the corset today is far beyond its earlier restrictive usages and negative meanings as the garment today has become a favored item in fashion industry and preferred by celebrity icons all around the world. The corset at present is an outerwear, art object and ideological construct. So, what makes the corset so popular and everlasting? The study on corsetry yields to a critique of Western culture from socio-political perspective as well as through body politics and gender studies. In that respect, this work aims to explore how corsetry in past and contemporary time exists as an essential part of patriarchal ideology, influencing social and literary landscapes and borrowing from the beauty aesthetics, thus creating the idealized feminine of each century.
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