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The Beaux Monde and the 'Bon ton'

While Rousseau's critiques pointed to the increasing subservience of the individual to the opinions of others, and to the extent to which people acted to impress others, rather than from the promtings of nature and the pure heart, fashionable society swept everything before it - producing some of the most perfect monstrosities of fashion, and drawing an ever wider community of consumers into its orbit.

We will look at some of the more extreme examples of fashion and contemporary culture and at the transformation, in early nineteenth century Britain and France, of this into an increasing moderation and conformity of codes of dress and style, albeit with the additional inventions of the macaroni and a range of extreme social types.

For class, I would like you to prepare a short presentation (c. 5 minutes) on an aspect of one of the topics below. Topics will be assigned in the class the week before. You can either pick an area of your topic that particularly interests you (beards maybe for hair, or gin for drink, and so on) or a more general overview.

1. Hair, both on top and facial – and hairdressing (see the seminal piece by John Barrell in his Spirit of Despotism on wigs, bear grease and flour - avaliable on library catalogue) and McKenrick’s essay in The Birth of Consumer Society ed Brewer, McKenrick and Plumb (copies at HC257.E5 M37)
2. Men’s dress and fashion – especially macaronis (see, for example, 'That Doubtful Gender”: Macaroni Dress and Male Sexualities', Fashion Theory (1999)
3. Women’s dress and fashion
4. Food and drink

For further information on your topic take a look at:

The Burney Collection - a collection of 17th and 18th newspapers, and especially the advert pages! You can access these via the libraray catalogue - just type in 'Burney Collection' (There are selections avaliable here).

Brewer and Porter ed Consumption and the world of goods (avaliable at HC79.C6 C673)

Bathchelor and Kaplan (ed) Women and material culture, 1660-1830 (at HQ1587.W627)

Maxine Berg and Elizabeth Eger, Luxury in the eighteenth century (avaliable as ebook)

additional info on - hair, food, macaronis, advertisements

hair dressing Macaroni