Styling Texts: Dress and Fashion in Literature, Student Edition

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Colors symbolized class, and costumes were made to reflect that.

1860s in Western fashion

For example, if a character was royalty, their costume included purple. The colors as well as the different fabrics of the costumes allowed viewers to know the roles of each actor when they came on stage. Even though the English Sumptuary Law of , a law which clearly defined the color, style, and fabric of the clothing different castes could wear, was in effect, a clause was built in that allowed actors to dress in clothes that were above their rank so long as they belonged to a licensed acting troupe.

The growing population of London, the growing wealth of its people, and their fondness for spectacle produced a dramatic literature of remarkable variety, quality, and extent. Although most of the plays written for the Elizabethan stage have been lost, over remain. The men no women were professional dramatists in this era who wrote these plays were primarily self-made men from modest backgrounds. Some of them were educated at either Oxford or Cambridge, but many were not. Although William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson were actors, the majority do not seem to have been performers, and no major author who came on to the scene after is known to have supplemented his income by acting.

Not all of the playwrights fit modern images of poets or intellectuals.

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Christopher Marlowe was killed in an apparent tavern brawl, while Ben Jonson killed an actor in a duel. Several probably were soldiers. However, they had no ownership of the plays they wrote. Once a play was sold to a company, the company owned it, and the playwright had no control over casting, performance, revision or publication.

The profession of dramatist was challenging and far from lucrative. This was probably at the low end of the range, though even the best writers could not demand too much more. A playwright, working alone, could generally produce two plays a year at most; in the s Richard Brome signed a contract with the Salisbury Court Theatre to supply three plays a year, but found himself unable to meet the workload.


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Shakespeare produced fewer than 40 solo plays in a career that spanned more than two decades; he was financially successful because he was an actor and, most importantly, a shareholder in the company for which he acted and in the theatres they used. Ben Jonson achieved success as a purveyor of Court masques, and was talented at playing the patronage game that was an important part of the social and economic life of the era. Those who were playwrights pure and simple fared far less well; the biographies of early figures like George Peele and Robert Greene, and later ones like Brome and Philip Massinger, are marked by financial uncertainty, struggle, and poverty.

Playwrights dealt with the natural limitation on their productivity by combining into teams of two, three, four, and even five to generate play texts; the majority of plays written in this era were collaborations, and the solo artists who generally eschewed collaborative efforts, like Jonson and Shakespeare, were the exceptions to the rule. Dividing the work, of course, meant dividing the income; but the arrangement seems to have functioned well enough to have made it worthwhile.

The truism that says, diversify your investments, may have worked for the Elizabethan play market as for the modern stock market. Most playwrights, like Shakespeare for example, wrote in verse. Genres of the period included the history play, which depicted English or European history. History plays dealt with more recent events, like A Larum for London which dramatizes the sack of Antwerp in Tragedy was an amazingly popular genre.

Like many other of his works, True at First Light was a blend of autobiography and fiction in which the author identified with the first person narrator.

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The author, who never kept a journal or wrote an autobiography in his life, draws on experience for his realism, slightly transforming events in his life. In this sense, the posthumous novel Islands in the Stream is in some places neither fictional nor fictitious. It is a story told in the third person, as are all his major works. Thus we get to know the writer David Bourne, assuredly an explorer like Daniel Boone, on his adventurous Mediterranean honeymoon.

The former character is much more complex and difficult to define, however, and her ardor and the fire of marital love prove consuming and transmogrifying. In this innocent borderland, moral limits are immediately extended, and conventional roles are reversed. From that moment the tables are turned. She mounts him in bed at night, and penetrates him in conjugal bliss:. Women with a gamin hairstyle, lovers who cut and dye their hair and change sexual roles, are themes that, with variations, occur in his novels from A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, to the posthumous Islands in the Stream.


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  8. They culminate in The Garden of Eden. When writing The Garden of Eden he appeared as a redhead one day in May When asked about it, he said he had dyed his hair by mistake. In that novel, the search for complete unity between the lovers is carried to extremes. It may seem that the halves of the primordial Androgyne of the Platonic myth once cut in two by Zeus and ever since longing to become a complete being again are uniting here.

    Not a sentence was missing … He wrote on a while longer now and there was no sign that any of it would ever cease returning to him intact.

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    When Tanzania gained independence in , President Julius Nyerere proclaimed that the new republic was the fulfillment of the Maji-Maji dream. It began in the hill country southwest of Dar es-Salaam and spread rapidly until the insurrection was finally crushed after some 70, Africans had been killed.

    Mau Mau was an insurrection of Kikuyo farm laborers in It was led by Jomo Kenyatta, who was subsequently held in prison until he became the premier of Kenya in and the first President of the Republic in For Kikuyo men or women and there were several women in the movement , to join Mau Mau meant dedicating their lives to a cause and sacrificing everything else, it meant taking a sacred oath that definitely cut them off from decorum and ordinary life.

    In a way it is significant that the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who was dedicated to peacemaking, should have been a Hemingway reader. Heserved as consulting editor for literature at Nobelprize. Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page. Nobel Prizes In , 12 new laureates were awarded for achievements that have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind. The work of the Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more. Select the category or categories you would like to filter by Physics.

    Economic Sciences. Not the fullest sense, but a rich one, nevertheless. The simpler a literary style in any other language, the easier it is to render into English—unless the style involves linguistically and culturally specific particularity, polysemy, or radical condensation; example one, Fernando Namora, for whom every single word has multiple resonances; example two, Yasunari Kawabata, whose concision draws upon longstanding Japanese literary and cultural traditions.

    In other cases, a sociocultural asynchrony with the dominant styles in the Anglophone world can present challenges, making the work sound stilted and out of fashion, even though it was written just yesterday and rings with a freshness in its own local context. The easier any literary style is to carry over into English, the more likely it is to be read globally, and perhaps translated into other languages from English, a realization some writers working in other languages have taken to heart.

    styling texts dress and fashion in literature student edition Manual

    Yet what about English-language writers themselves, or those writers in other languages who see the unique resources of their native tongues and their national and cultural literary and oral traditions as a source of strength, artistry, and innovation, as well as the fount of their distinctive styles? Within any given society, in given eras, certain styles become established, which many, though not all writers, adapt to—or are compelled, for various reasons and by various means, to conform to.

    In democratic societies, it is usually by internalization, mimicry and modeling, pedagogy and the push of capitalism; in authoritarian and totalitarian societies, it is by force—of law, or worse. In the case of the former example, I am thinking, for example, of literary minimalism and its diffusion throughout American literary culture in the s and s.

    What were its origins and its effects? It would take at least an essay to trace them out, but literary minimalism fit the political, economic, technological, and cultural shifts of the time. It had powerful, well-placed champions, and some brilliant exemplars. No style works for everyone, though the further you are from the accepted style or styles, the more likely you are to be viewed as behind the times, or ahead of them.

    Not all great writers are great stylists, but we remember the distinctive stylists among the greats, and the stylists among the not-so-greats. We sometimes forget those whose greatness lay in other literary strengths, though we also may be as likely to remember specific works by them, because of the subject matter. One immediately thinks of Theodore Dreiser. But even if we can describe those works in summary fashion, can we describe their style? Probably not, though does it matter? Or does it? Simplicity and efficiency.

    These are the touchstones for today. Pare down the modifiers, simplify the syntax, make it easy to read, i. Avoid rhetoric. Shorter sentences, briefer paragraphs. In this neoliberal age, the time of Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and similar social media, in an arena in which words in print are yielding to a vast, mirrored ever-expanding hall of images, what does it mean to defy these trends, even if they are not dictates? With the seemingly simplest styles, if there is too much ambiguity, too little explanation, will they prove too much of a challenge?

    Even if a writer aims to defy the technological and cultural shifts around her, might she be internalizing these aesthetics and cultural trends nevertheless? There are degrees of literary style, styles that operate at the micro-level up through the macro-level of sentences and paragraphs. Sometimes style is in the service of form, sometimes it becomes it. Can a simple style capture a density of ideas? Dalvean argues that as idea density has fallen, certain cognitive phenomena and effects associated with literature have disappeared as well.

    What do we lose with a plainer, less dense style, fewer modifiers, a simpler storyline? Or do we gain and reach more readers? Can we teach style in high school and college classrooms? To paraphrase Walter Benjamin, the old tradition of learning to write involved repeatedly copying out the best texts of the past. A colleague developed an updated version of this method for the undergraduate majors and minors at Northwestern University, where I taught for a decade.

    My fellow creative writing teachers and I, teaching the first half of advanced classes in the three genres of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction, would select several writers and texts as models that the students would then strongly emulate. I tried always to create an educative and provocative mix of writers and texts that would give my students a sense of the wider range of possible options, and not just in terms of style, but subject matter, form, and so on.

    The student writers who arrived in the class with strong individual literary compasses often brushed the influences off, intentionally or not, and their particular voices and styles were soon apparent. But many students fell under the spell of Saunders, say, or Murakami, as if writing in their ateliers. What I came to realize, however, was that as these students continued writing and reading, eventually their own stylistic tendencies, though shaped and trained by the established figures, would emerge. They had models to draw upon, and were on their way to becoming writers.

    Is erudition in style a marker of class privilege? Perhaps, and perhaps especially today, when many basic components of literary history and style probably are not being taught at the elementary and secondary school level. Can most students situate authors, texts and styles in relation to a historical-critical chronology? Training in rhetoric has mostly gone the way of the dodo bird, for arguably defensible and indefensible reasons.

    But literary style is not the province of the elite, even though today, as in the past, certain styles are privileged and championed over others.



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