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Which clippings match 'Literary Critic' keyword pg.1 of 1
26 NOVEMBER 2009

Big Hair: A Wig History of Consumption in Eighteenth-Century France

"Historians of consumption have generally followed social theorists in emphasizing two different aspects of modernity. While social scientists emphasize long term processes of 'modernization,' such as urbanization and industrialization, cultural historians and literary critics define modernity in terms of consciousness, stressing in particular the development of a reflexive self and a heightened awareness of one's present age as new and set off from the past.(4) Both understandings of modernity underpin current historical literature on eighteenth–century Western European consumption. Highlighting socioeconomic processes of commercialization, historians argue that eighteenth–century Western Europe experienced a 'consumer revolution' as men and women freed themselves from the grip of scarcity to initiate a buying spree of historic proportions. Although its geography and periodization remain highly controversial, such a revolution is commonly represented as a step toward modern consumer society.(5) At the same time, the study of consumption, especially French consumption, has taken a cultural turn, opening new doors between the Enlightenment and late modernity. (6) Daniel Roche, whose work has defined the field, argues that the birth of consumption was an integral part of a larger cultural change in which the traditional values of a stationary Christian economy gradually gave way to the egalitarianism and individualism of modern commodity culture. For Roche, the story is principally one of emancipation: 'It is important to recognize that . . . commodities did not necessarily foster alienation; in fact, they generally meant liberation.'(7) The diffusion of fashion led to 'a new state of mind, more individualistic, more hedonistic, in any case more egalitarian and more free.'(8) Less optimistic than Roche but equally intent on establishing a connection between Enlightenment consumption and modernity, Jennifer Jones contends that the late–eighteenth–century discourse on fashion helped to produce modern, essentialized definitions of gender. As social differentiation faded from fashion commentary, gender differentiation took its place.(9)"

(Michael Kwass, p.633, The American Historical Review, 111.3)

Fig.1 FRONTISPIECE: Wigs. Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonnée des sciences, des arts et des métiers. Recueil de planches, sur les sciences, les arts libéraux, et les arts méchaniques, avec leur explication, 11 vols. (Paris, 1762–1772), s.v. "Perruquier."

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changecollaborationcommercialisationconsciousness • consumer revolution • consumer societyconsumerismconsumptioncostume design • cultural historian • Daniel Roche • egalitarianism • emancipationEuropean EnlightenmentfashionFrancegender differentiationgeographyhairhedonismhistoryindividualismindustrialisation • Jennifer Jones • late modernityliterary criticmodernisationmodernityperiodisation • reflexive self • social change • social constructionist • social differentiationsocietysocio-economictraditiontransformationurbanisation • Western Europe • wig

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Simon Perkins
17 DECEMBER 2003

NUD*IST: Qualitative Data Analysis System

"NUD*IST software was first developed by Tom Richards to support social research by Lyn Richards. One of the first qualitative research programs of its kind, the product stood for 'Non–Numerical Unstructured Data Indexing Searching and Theorizing'. It helps to change the way that qualitative research is conducted."

(QSR International Pty Ltd)

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