1. Research Paper, 6-8 pages, double spaced, 12point font, max. 1” margins. (Due Thursday May 10th by 12pm via email)
2. 3 PowerPoint slides with pictures of your subject (Due Tuesday May 8th by 10am via email)
How often have we heard the phrase “the clothes make the man?” (Or woman?) True, the quote is outdated, and might be charged with being classist (every “real man” needs fine clothes) and sexist (since it seems to suggest that women don’t do anything that would need good clothes) but such quotes hold more than a grain of truth. Most of us do judge others by their clothes, and for good reason: in the absence of any other information, clothing can tell us much about a person. When we see a stranger for the first time, that person’s clothing and accessories can provide multiple cultural clues about gender, class, religion, status, and age, to name but a few. This project asks you to reconsider what we know about Greek and Romans views of gender expressed through their clothing.
Each student will research the clothing of a different god or person from the Greek or Roman world (see list below for choices). You will need to consult the primary sources, both literary and visual. You will also consult modern works on Greek and Roman costume, culture, and gender. Therefore your bibliography will include:
1) At least 3 primary Greek or Roman sources (in English). (Art can be used as a substitute with approval.)
2) At least 4 modern books and/or articles. (Websites are not allowed unless approved. JSTOR, Google Books, etc. are acceptable.) — BIBLIOGRAPHY CHECK BY TUES MAY 1 at 9:30am
To fully consider your topic, you will need to grapple with some fundamental questions:
1) Explain the gendered elements of your costume. Was there anything in particular about the garb that signaled “male or female” to an ancient viewer? How do we know?
2) Did the ancients leave any information about the origins of the particular garb? Does it appear to you that many Romans or Greeks (or just an educated few) knew about these origins?
3) What further meanings did the ancients assign to the clothing? For example, the belt of a Roman bride was said to signify chastity and fertility. Again, did many or few Romans know what the items signified?
4) Does the literary and material (visual) evidence agree? If not, what does this dissonance signify, do you believe? See below about ideals.
5) To what extent is the clothing you read about, and view, an idea or an ideal? For example, the Roman author Valerius Maximus asserts that a certain Gaius Sulpicius Gallus divorced his wife for going about in public with an uncovered head. But many statues of Roman married woman depict them without veils. Can we know what the average married Roman woman wore?
6) Are there any instances of ancient people cross-dressing by wearing the garb of the subject you are researching? What are the ancient reactions? Mirth, anger, repulsion, attraction?
7) Consider the implications of mixed messages sent by costume, especially in the notoriously difficult arena of religion. For example, the goddess Athena bears implements never carried by actual historical women, yes?
8) Reevaluate the importance of gender. For example, what does it say about Romans’ concern about gender that all freeborn children regardless of gender wore a bordered toga? Perhaps “freedom” held greater significance than “male or female”? Or perhaps, just perhaps, that Roman boys and girls were treated with greater equality than previously imagined?
9) Is a person supposed to behave in a certain way when garbed in a particular outfit? Or are others supposed to? From Roman literature we hear of “praetextate speech” (i.e. you’re supposed to watch your language around those wearing a toga praetexta).