Global Fabrications: Fashioning Modernity in Text and Textile

Strauss, Rebecca, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Wicke, Jennifer, Department of English, University of Virginia
Felski, Rita, Department of English, University of Virginia
Arata, Stephen, Department of English, University of Virginia
Blatt, Ari, Department of French Language and Literatures, University of Virginia

Across the arc of what Giovanni Arrighi calls the long twentieth century, the vast reaches of empire, colonialism, and neoimperial globalization came increasingly to pose representational problems for fiction. Because novels fashion aesthetic worlds that respond and correspond to the lived world, these global economic processes restructure the relation between the world inside a novel and the world outside it. “Global Fabrications” connects the rise of the global novel to the global fashion industry, which underpins industrialization, economic modernization, and the rise, expansion, and development of globalization. Because practices of fashion—from textile manufacture to global branding, and from cross-dressing to street style—relate the representational to the phenomenological and the imagined to the material, “Global Fabrications” centers on key ways in which dress threads through literary fabrications of a densely interconnected global modernity. In chapters that address works by Oscar Wilde, Thomas Hardy, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, and Zadie Smith, among others, “Global Fabrications” situates fiction within the broader history of modernity, drawing upon an archive that includes fabrics, advertisements, photography, and brand images and using an interdisciplinary framework that combines aesthetic and cultural theory with political philosophy, studies of empire, and economic theories of globalization. Between its literary concerns and its investments in cultural and economic history, the project offers a new strategy for reading literary texts, anchoring the aesthetic in critical conversations about global political and economic inequality.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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