Carol DeGrasse deposited The Fabric of Society: Textiles as an Indicator of Social Class in Domestic Novels in the group TM The Teaching of Literature on Humanities Commons 6 years, 7 months ago
This paper examines textiles as an indicator of social class in the sentimental novels of the American long 1850s. Publications such as Godey’s Lady’s Book (1830) and Lady’s World of Fashion (1842) are credited with creating the ties between social status and textile quality. Yet, domestic novels of the long 1850s such as The Discarded Daughter; or the Children of the Isle: A Tale of the Chesapeake (1852), by E.D.E.N. Southworth; Fashion and Famine (1854), by Ann Sophia Stephens; and The Wide, Wide World (1850), by Susan Warner perpetuated the elevated status of fabric through their literary depictions. This author contends that it is not the fashionability of the garment–but rather the quality of the fabric itself that operates as the predominant guage of social status for women of this time period.