Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Renaissance Europe

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9780199645183: Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Renaissance Europe

Dressing Up shows why clothes made history and history can be about clothes. It imagines the Renaissance afresh by considering people's appearances: what they wore, how this made them move, what images they created, and how all this made people feel about themselves.

Using an astonishing array of sources, Ulinka Rublack argues that an appreciation of people's relationship to appearances and images is essential to an understanding of what it meant to live at this time - and ever since. We read about the head accountant of a sixteenth-century merchant firm who commissioned 136 images of himself elaborately dressed across a lifetime; students arguing with their mother about which clothes they could have; or Nuremberg women wearing false braids dyed red or green. This brilliantly illustrated book draws on a range of insights across the disciplines and allows us to see an entire period in new ways. In integrating its findings into larger arguments about consumption, visual culture, the Reformation, German history, and the relationship of European and global history, it promises to re-shape the field.

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About the Author:

Ulinka Rublack teaches early modern European history at Cambridge University and is a Fellow of St John's College. One of the most original scholars of her generation, she has previously published The Crimes of Women in Early Modern Germany and Reformation Europe. She is editor of Gender in Early Modern German History and the Oxford University Press Concise Companion to History(2011).


"Insightful and original analysis"--Times Literary Supplement

"Remarkable...Rublack turns the wardrobe into a place of almost magical powers of revelation, opening up vistas into the imaginative and emotional lives of men and women in Renaissance Europe. And with more than 150 magnificent colour illustrations, this dazzling book is as much a feast for the eye as for the mind."--John Adamson, The Sunday Telegraph

"A thrilling investigation...[H]ugely accomplished...What is really stunning...is the extraordinarily deft way in which [Rublack] has stitched together all these fragments, selvedges and even stray threads. The result is a narrative quilt that doesn't simply shimmer with surface detail but dazzles with its deep, original thought."--Kathryn Hughes, The Guardian

"Impressive and superbly illustrated...The technical expertise, breadth of research and wide-ranging knowledge of the cultural context of clothes besides the fascinating details and stories, means that this will make a lasting contribution to early modern studies."--Roland H. Bainton Prize Committee

"A highly original and important reinterpretation of this era...gloriously illustrated with 156 images...[T]his volume delights the eye and the mind. It is an important contribution at every level."--Beverly Lemire, Historical Journal

"In its wide range of sources and diverse kinds of images, Dressing Up powerfully demonstrates the significance of clothing for Renaissance culture in general, and in detail."--Ann Rosalind Jones, Renaissance Quarterly

"Viewing dress codes as cultural codes, and arguments about clothes as arguments about values, Ulinka Rublack shows us in this lively and fascinating essay how the history of costume forms part of cultural history."--Peter Burke, University of Cambridge

"This stunning book transforms the way we understand clothes and the concern for appearance in Germany and Europe more generally in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Garments and their wearers take us into the changing realms of personal play, religious argument, national identity, and curiosity. Richly illustrated and deeply researched, Dressing Up provides an exciting new mirror for early modern times."--Natalie Zemon Davis, University of Toronto

"Rublack combines deep knowledge with a remarkable subtlety of interpretation, alive always to the desires, passions and longings that made dress so profoundly important to European culture in this period. Packed with vivid vignettes and stories--from the riches to rags of a German patrician in Brazil to the riddle of Luther's Reformation choice of a red doublet--this book shows how a global economy underpinned the transformation of fashion. A major achievement, Rublack changes how we think about culture in the early modern world."--Lyndal Roper, University of Oxford

"Rublack's wonderful new book on 'Dressing up' is both readable and compelling. While focused on Germany, she deals with fashion as a global phenomenon, exploring the many complexities that communities faced when deciding what to wear. Ranging across issues of identity, social control and cohesion, religious conflict and sumptuary laws, Rublack shows that clothing and fashion are serious and challenging topics that lead to often unexpected results."--Evelyn Welch, Queen Mary University of London

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