By Tita Chico
Dressing rooms, brought into English household structure through the 17th century supplied elite ladies with imprecedented deepest area at domestic and in so doing promised them an both extraordinary autonomy via supplying an area for self-fashioning, eroticism and contemplation. Tita Chico's Designing girls argues that the dressing room turns into a robust metaphor in late-seventeenth- and eighteenth-century literature for either innovative and conservative satirists and novelists. those writers use the trope to symbolize competing notions of women?s independence and their objectification indicating that the dressing room occupies a vital (if ignored) position within the background of non-public existence, postmodern theories of the closet and the improvement of literary varieties.
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Extra resources for Designing Women: The Dressing Room in Eighteenth-Century English Literature and Culture
I have often thought there has not been sufficient Pains taken in finding out proper Employments and Diversions for the Fair ones. Their Amusements seem contrived for them rather as they are Women, than as they are reasonable Creatures; and are more adapted to the Sex, than to the Species. 51 The domestic sphere becomes a matter for public debate and intervention; thus, Mr. 52 But the ‘‘separate spheres’’ thesis—the idea that women were confined to this domestic sphere—has come under recent criticism.
Adapting Sedgwick’s reading of the queer closet, with its contested status and its relation to the maintenance of cultural categories more generally, to the eighteenth-century lady’s dressing room does not suggest a symmetry between the experiences of gays and lesbians, on the one hand, and those of a group of women with the privileges of the dressing room, on the other. 92 My work instead offers a beginning corrective for the erasure of women in general from theories of the closet. There certainly were dressing rooms for men—Lord Chesterfield conducted (in)famous business in his—but they were provinces for male prerogative (linked in type to the gentleman’s closet) rather than sites of anxiety.
81 In other words, things may still be hidden, a dressing room—even a dressing room with its doors thrown wide open—may still contained its own purloined letters, evidence of the unseen, sitting in plain view. Barker’s private tremulous body indicates that the suggestion that privacy is in some way authentic is itself illusory, with every exposure precipitating yet another obfuscation. The promise of disclosure—indeed, even the fact of disclosure— only introduces yet another opportunity for enclosure.
Designing Women: The Dressing Room in Eighteenth-Century English Literature and Culture by Tita Chico