• Désirée Koslin
  • Janet Snyder
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Audiences interested in the attire, dress, and textiles of the Middle Ages are aware of the importance of, as well as the challenges, in this field of study. It is widely recognized that medieval society depended on clothing codes and prestigious textile furnishings for signs of identity as well as the actual economic underpinnings of society. The evidence for these phenomena, however, is scant and embedded in the greater context of the surviving material from the period. Furthermore, between these sources and us lie several hundred years of interventions that have added facts and fiction, interpretation and alteration in an ongoing, multilayered process of change involving ideas about the culture of what we call the “Middle Ages.”


LIterary HIstory Culture Theory Matenal Culture Clothing Style Means Flaw 
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  1. 2.
    For the structuralist approach, see Ferdinand de Saussure, A Course in General Linguistics (London: Peter Owen, 1960), andGoogle Scholar
  2. Roland Barthes, Mythologies (London: Paladin, 1973); and his Système de la Mode (1967) in trans, as The Fashion System (New York: Hill and Wang, 1983). The study of material culture, using a progression of description, deduction, and speculation, is defined by Jules Prown in his “Mind in Matter: An Introduction to Material Culture Theory and Method,” The Winterthur Portfolio (17, 1982). Design history was recently introduced in academic curricula, see, for an introductionGoogle Scholar
  3. John A. Walker, Design History and the History of Design (London: Pluto Press, 1989); andGoogle Scholar
  4. Adrian Forty, Objects of Desire: Design and Society since 1150 (London: Thames and Hudson, 1986).Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    Joseph Strutt’s 1796 Complete View of the Dress and Habits of the People of England is accessible in the 1970 facsimile of the 1842 reprint edited by J. R. Planché (London: Tabard Press, 1970); Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, Dictionnaire raisonné du mobilier français de l’époque carolingienne à la renaissance, vols. III–IV (Paris: Morel et Cie, 1872); and for textiles especially,Google Scholar
  6. Otto von Falke, Kunstgeschichte der Seidenweberei (Berlin: Ernst Wasmuth, 1921 (1913).Google Scholar
  7. 4.
    See Hans Robert Jauss, “Literary History as a Challenge to Literary Theory,” in New Directions in Literary History, ed. Ralph Cohen (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974), 13.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Désirée G. Koslin and Janet E. Snyder 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Désirée Koslin
  • Janet Snyder

There are no affiliations available

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