Jones and Stallybrass 2000

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Jones, Ann Rosalind and Peter Stallybrass. Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

fashion: both rapidly changing surface and enduring depth (made-ness)

livery: people paid in clothing / cloth / materials instead of cash

"Livery acted as the medium through which the social system marked bodies so as to associate them with particular institutions. The power to give that marking to subordinates affirmed social hierarchy: lords dressed retainers, masters dressed apprentices, husbands dressed their wives. But livery, as it dignified the institutions to which it identified people as belonging, also dignified the participants in such institutions. This mutually supportive interplay of loyalties is what was seen as being at risk by writers attacking sartorial anarchy, the tendency of modern Englishmen (and women) to dress as free-floating individuals rather than as representatives of groups defined by shared labors or loyalties." (5)

The currency of clothing

decline in marked livery, but "payment in things remained central to early modern economies throughout Europe" (18)

payment in livery, but more than monetary value; "livery was a form of incorporation, a material mnemonic that inscribed obligations and indebtedness upon the body. As cloth exchanged hands, it bound people in networks of obligation." (20)

"Renaissance clothes were piecemeal assemblages of parts, every part exchangeable for cash until completely worn out. (Even when worn out, linen provided the valuable rags used to make paper.) Livery as a memorializing system can be set against borht the circulation of clothes outside the structures of court, household, and guild and the translations of materials from one garment to another, from overgarments to undergarments, from gold to gold thread back to gold again. Inventories, wills, and pawnbroking records constantly remind us not only that clothes were transmitted, but that they could be disassembled into their parts." (22-23)

pawning; "Money was transformed into things; things were transformed back into money. It was in things that the Renaissance stored up material memories, but it was also those things that would, when required, become commodities again, exchangeable for cash." (33)

Composing the subject: making portraits

portraits "are as much the portraits of clothes and jewels as of people -- mnemonics to commemorate a particularly extravagant suit, a dazzling new fashion in ruffs, a costly necklace or jewel. While the modern connoisseur searches the faces for a revealing feature or for the identity of the sitter, the pictures themselves give a minutely detailed portrayal of the material constitution of the subject: a subject composed through textiles and jewels, fashioned by clothes." (35)

Holbein's portrait; "the construction of the portrayed subject through prostheses, the attachable/detachable parts,the clothes, furniture, books, scientific and musical instruments that animate the subject." (49)

"Portrait painters composed identities for their sitters not only by condcentrating on the nuances of faces but also by combining an international range of substances for artwork, material objects, and garments to represent those sistters' positions in a world of complex economic and political circulation." (49)

Yellow starch: fabrications of the Jacobean court

Arachne's web: Velazquez's Las Hilanderas

Velazquez, Las Hilanderas (The Spinners); spinners in foreground, tapestry lit in background; has led modern critics to privilege the high art of the tapestry (made primarily by men) over the low art of the spinning (women's work)

Arachne; Ovid is sympathetic to her, Sandys's translation makes her into a political/sexual agitator; Browne pastoralizes her

"The power of Velazquez's painting is its power to rematerialize the processes through which the symbolic is manufactured." (103)

The fate of spinning: Penelope and the Three Fates

spinning, very unprofitable in England

"conflict at the heart of representations of spinning"

  • "On the one hand, it was recognized as the absolute precondition for all textile production and as the required labor of poorer women. On the other, it was an ideological program for the production of virtuous femininity across class lines. Consequently, it was recommended for aristocratic and middle-class daughters as the necessary habitus that produced 'woman,' while the actual work of producing thread was trivialized or ignored." (110)

weaving was "increasingly becoming a man's craft in early modern Europe. During the Middle Ages, women worked at weaving wool as well as silk, but by the middle sixteenth century they had been forced out of most of the clothworking guilds throughout Europe. At the same time, spinning was celebrated in the attempt to produce an ideal woman valued for her 'simplicity.'" (111)

"Beginning in the middle sixteenth century, under James, and after the Restoration, the English wool trade declined radically. The industrial recession of the seventeenth century, combined with politically motivated Continental embargoes on English wool and the use there of wool from Ireland and Spain, as well as locally driven but wrongheaded clothiers' demands that exports of raw wool should be stopped so that English workers alone could profit from finishing it, led to much lower prices for local wool, to much less wool-raising, and consequently to less opportunity for spinners." (115)
"During the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, Englishwomen had provided spun yarn to an industry in expansion, but by 1600 textil virtue was more than ever a moral ideal rather than an economic reality. No traditional or new moral constants invoked to define the virtuous bourgeois daughter or wife guaranteed that the cloth trades would continue to sustain threadmakers as they spun." (116)

The needle and the pen: needlework and the appropriation of printed texts

"We argue that even as a woman bent over her sewing appeared to be fulfilling the requirement of obedient domesticity, she could be materializing a counter-memory for herself, registering her links to other women and to the larger world of culture and politics." (134)

patterns from many different nations and places; "The London gentlewoman sitting at home at her needlework was in fact being constituted by the textile practices of far-flung nations and faiths." (137)

Taylor's poem, compares gathering patterns to jumping about like a squirrel from tree to tree -- "the pleasures of flightiness" (139)

Juan Vives, recommended copying out sententiae for women; "Although Vives does not mention samplers, this was a form of needlework that corresponded precisely to his desire to focus the mind on proper objects: working pious maxims in thread drew both kinds of activity together." (141)

needle VS. pen -- Vives recommends reading and writing over sewing (141)

William Greenhill's sermon dedicated to Princess Elizabeth, Charles I's daughter, recommended she spend more time with her pen and books than with the needle (142)

"Silk was expensive, as were the tools of fine needlework. Accordingly, moralists writing for the middling sort linked decorative stitchery to vices contrary to the thrifty industry than needlework was made to signify in conduct books and sermons." (143-144)

Thomas Powell, Art of Thriving, or the plaine pathway to preferment (1635), "associates expensive needlework with the reading of romances and reading with frivolous writing, all equally unsuited to bourgeois daughters" (144)

"Early modern women found themselves in a marketplace where conduct manuals defining feminine virtue as containment within the household circulated along with how-to books encouraging women to demonstrate their textile virtuosity in public. This new system of print culture was fed by more or less explicit advertisements for incompatible groups -- humanists and moralists at court, pattern salesmen blazoning their commodities, defenders of different religions, city poets satirizing contemporary fashions. the crazy-quilt of conservative gender theory and new technical practices opened up unpredictable possibilities for the design and display of textile work by women. The needle could be a pen." (144)

Esther Inglis -- "She is the author, that is, the maker, of every element of her books." (148)

"Any clear distinction between public and private, inner and outer spaces, was undone in material ways by English needlewomen. Whatever repressive and isolating effects stitchery as a disciplinary apparatus might have been intended to produce, women used it to connect to one another within domestic settings and to connect with the outer world, as well." (148)
"Needlework on caps, coifs, and scarves as well as samples, cushions and wall hangings was hardly a private habit; rather, it encouraged buyers of pattern books to choose among publicly printed designs and combine them in their own way." (148-149)
"The needleworker combined a variety of forms from a variety of sources; her 'private' undergrament is actually a record of her take on visual vocabularies circulating in the public world of print." (149)
"Copia, symmetry, and variety are the principles of composition, rather than narrative detail." (149)

embroidery "freely adapts the narrative to a flat surface and fills its empty spaces with the flora and fauna that printed pattern books made available to embroiderers" (149)

Helena and Hermia linked by the needlework they did together as children in Midsummer Night's Dream (153)

embroidered caskets, generally "broke down the needle-pen opposition: decorated with silken needlework, they contained pens and ink." (59)

"Needlewomens' choice of figures such as Esther and the Queen of Sheba, and their use of internationally circulating prints as models for designs, typify the appropriation of public visual discourses through which they took part in the production of political and national histories." (162)
"In worked texts they recorded their ingenuity, their reading, their collaboration and their loyalties to causes beyond their families and houses. They plied the needle to materialize their views of the world and to be remembered as makers of objects that commemorated themselves, their families and their country's triumphs." (170)

The circulation of clothes and the making of the English theater

professional actos "were also liveried members of aristocratic households" (175)

"The extraordinary expense and care given to clothes suggests that the guild theatricals that both preceded and were contemporary with the professional theaters were crucially concerned with the making and maintenance of costumes. What we argue here is that the professional London companies were equally organized around costumes, costumes that were now part of a more general circulation of clothing." (177)

"tiremen," "wardrobe keepers" hired to manage costumes (178)

"The value of clothes meant that the lives and deaths of theatrical companies were often dependent upon the accumulation and dispersal of costumes." (179)
"As contemporary comments show, secondhand clothes dealers and pawnbrokers constantly overlapped. Frippers of fripperers, dealing in cast-off apparel, were not clearly distinguished from brokers in the Renaissance." (184)

aristocratic garments acquired second-hand from court -- "In such transmissions of clothes, liveried inscriptions upon the body were radically displaced" (190)

displacement of church vestments; vestments used to be used in Miracle plays, "but the Reformation dramatically altered the church's relation to its own clothes" (192); church cloth sold off, some to make costumes

  • "The journey of the ecclesiastical robe from the church to the pawnbrokers at Long Lane to the theater was a series of translation in which a sacred garment from the theater of God came to represent a 'heathen' religion on the secular stage. In the theater itself, the unstitching and restitching of clothes by tailors and brokers was often represented ambivalently as materializing the unstitching and restitching of the social fabric." (193)
"We have been arguing that the theater was a direct and indirect growth out of the trade in clothes: direct, in that the companies and the theatrical entrepreneurs used the theaters as places to stage and profit from the currency of clothes; indirect, in that the players were supported both by their legal status as liveried servants and by the acquisition of aristocratic clothing. In conclusion, we suggest that the economic relations of the theater to the clothing trade help to illuminate both the repertory of the companies and the process by which roles and identities were defined on the stage." (195)
"What implications can we draw out from the wills that bequeathed clothes? First, clothes have a life of their own; they both are material presences and they absorb other material and immaterial presences. In the transfer of clothes, identities are transferred from an aristocrat to an actor, from an actor to a master, from a master to an apprentice." (204)
"In the Renaissance theater, 'character' is always haunted by clothes that give a name or that have conversed with other bodies. They stage the otherness that materializes the impossibility of self-possession. If we do not understand these clothes, we do not understand the action, or the actors, or the theater itself. But that theater, far from reproducing the orderly transmissions of a cloth economy, obsessively staged the misunderstanding of clothes, clothes as a site of crisis from which nostalgia for a lost time of splendid armor could offer no reprieve. The transmission of clothes figures the formulation and dissolution of identity, the ways in which the subject is possessed and dispossessed, touched and haunted by the materials it inhabits." (206)

Transvestism and the 'body beneath': speculating on the boy actor

"We need to conceptualize the erotics of Renaissance drama in totally unfamiliar ways if we are to make sense of these queer stagings of the boy actor, stagings that insist that we see what, visually, we cannot see." (213)
"The Renaissance theater was thus the site for the prosthetic production of the sexualized body through the clothing of the body and the mimed gestures of love. But it was also he site where that prosthetic production was dramatically staged and speculated upon, as the boy actor undressed, as the fixations of spectators were drawn back and forth between the clothes which embodied and determined a particular sexual identity and contradictory fantasies of the body beneath -- the body of a woman, the body of a boy; a body with and without breasts." (216)
"If the Renaissance stage demands that we 'see' particular body parts (the breast, the penis, the naked body), it also reveals that such fixations are inevitably unstable. The actor is both boy and woman, and he/she embodies the fact that sexual fixations are not the product of any categorical fixity of gender. Indeed, all attempts to fix gender are necessarily prosthetic: that is, they suggest the attempt to supply an imagined deficiency by the exchange of male clothes for female clothes or of female clothes for male clothes; by displacement from male to female space or from female to male space; by the replacement of male with female tasks or of female with male tasks. But all elaborations of the prosthesis which will supply the 'deficiency' can secure no essence. On the contrary, they suggest that gender itself is a fetish, the production of an identity through the fixation upon specific parts. The imagined truth of gender which a post-Renaissance culture would later construct is dependent upon the disavowal of the fetishism of gender, the disavowal of gender as fetish. In its place, post-Renaissance culture would put a fantasied biology of the 'real'." (217)

(In)alienable possessions: Griselda, clothing, and the exchange of women

"rerobings" of the story of Griselda -- "translations" of clothing that enact power relations and shape social identities (221)

Of ghosts and garments: the materiality of memory on the Renaissance stage

"The most prominent feature of Renaissance ghosts is precisely their gross materiality. They appear to us conspicuously clothed. Not only are they clothed, but after they leave the stage, their clothes, having a vulgar material value, are carefully stored away or resold." (248)
"The material clothes, indeed, have the ability to conjure up the dead and to materialize them upon the stage." (248)
"But why should these ghosts be so precisely clothed and situated? It is, mundanely, so that they will be known. If a ghost says, above all, 'remember me,' remembrance is materialized through the physical attributes that named the person when alive. And those attributes are above all superficial: they lie on the surface, they can be displayed to the eye (Andrugio's ghost is "displayed"). If a ghost is a mnemonic, the Renaissance ghost is often remembered by what it wears, what is most visible and tactile -- its clothes." (249)