May 23, 2019

Fleming: women, fashion and magazines

Step back in time at the Fleming Museum this fall to explore the historical role of women.

On Wednesday, Oct. 10 at noon at the Fleming Museum, UVM English Professor Mary Lou Kete will offer a presentation entitled “Patterns for American Womanhood: Magazines, Race and Gender in 19th Century America,” which examines the role of women—as readers, authors, and editors—in making the magazine one of the most important sources that defined how to be a woman and an American. In the years before the Civil War, the magazine had helped white women redefine notions of femininity and to claim a right to help fashion American values. In the aftermath of the war and Reconstruction, black women turned to the magazine to further their project of “Racial Uplift” by providing models for black American womanhood.

An exhibit entitled “Victorian Fashion and Femininity” will also be featured at the museum through Dec. 14. Through women’s clothing and accessories from the Fleming Museum’s collection, along with excerpts from popular American women’s magazines such as “Godey’s Lady’s Book and Peterson’s Magazine,” the exhibit “explores how fashion embodied the many contradictions of Victorian women’s lives, and, eventually, the growing call for more diverse definitions of women’s roles and identities,” according to the museum’s website.

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