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Master Thesis

Corps et corsets, du milieu du XVIIIe siècle à la fin des années 1820

Abstract : My essay focuses on the evolution of women's whaleboned bodies from the second half of the 18th century to the 1830s. This period marks the upstream and downstream of a phase of greater bodily freedom. The development of new ideological currents at the beginning of the second half of the 18th century marked the beginning of the relaxation of the bodies. My study ends in 1829 with the invention of the pulley back, which allowed women to lace and untie themselves. The challenge of my research was to demonstrate that the evolution of an object, the body, sheds light on the social changes that surround its use. I studied three main themes. First of all, I wanted to show that the physical evolution of the object and its consumption are linked to the socio-economic changes that surround it. The easing of clothing restrictions was at its peak around the French Revolution. However, this break in bodily freedom was short-lived since, from the beginning of the 19th century, corsets and whaleboned bodies were used as political tools. Then, I analyzed the speeches evoking the use of bodies and corsets. I have distinguished between medical-pedagogical works and more poetic works. The debates on the practice of bodies and corsets go beyond the simple question of clothing. They intervene in a fear of the degeneration of the species. In more poetic works, their use makes women sensual and desirable. I also wondered what women themselves thought about it through rare female testimonies. Thirdly, I wanted to show that the practice of bodies was inseparable from gender issues. The shaping of the silhouette is one of the first elements that constitutes sexual dimorphism. The physical constraint of these pieces is also a symbol of female subordination. But I was also interested in the forms of "counter-powers" as well as providing for the wearing of bodies and corsets. It has positive connotations; it can improve the social and economic status of the woman who wears it. Bodies and corsets have been tools to increase their beauty capital in the matrimonial market. The entire analysis highlighted the extreme ambiguity that marks this practice in phases of social change and reveals deeper social questions.
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Master Thesis
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Submitted on : Monday, October 28, 2019 - 10:21:50 AM
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Laurie Barao. Corps et corsets, du milieu du XVIIIe siècle à la fin des années 1820. Histoire. 2019. ⟨dumas-02335125⟩

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