Abstract

In response to scholarship on eighteenth-century female consumerism, this essay argues that women's relationship to ornamental objects was both ambivalent and changing in the early decades of the eighteenth century. It contrasts the relationship between women and chinaware in Pope's "The Rape of the Lock" and Swift's dressing room poems in the context of the emergent category of domestic "beautification arts." Pope posits subjectivity as an animated aesthetic form embodied in the well-dressed woman, chinaware, and poetry alike, while Swift disrupts the symbiotic relationship of human life and aesthetic order, both material and poetic, degrading the association of women and china as it relocates personal identity to the interior life of the individual. This shift in the conception of chinoiserie's place in British culture thus constitutes a severance of "nature" from aesthetic form and, consequently, a rewriting of human subjectivity itself.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 75-94
Launched on MUSE
2009-10-07
Open Access
No
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