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Dressed to Kill: The Role of Women’s Dress in Gender, Performance, and Power

April 27, 2018 @ 9:00 pm - 9:45 pm

It is easy to look back on Victorian dress in admiration and enjoy copying the fashions from the past today. However, women’s dress has always in some way been political, reflecting norms, constraints, and idealizations of women from the time. This presentation will include a brief history of women’s dressing trends in the nineteenth-century with a focus on the changes in fashion that both reflected and challenged cultural expectations for women in the Victorian era. We will also discuss how we interpret and use these fashions today, especially in the Steampunk community.

Dr. Renea Frey is a professor of Rhetoric and the Writing Program Director in the English Department at Xavier University. Her research interests include the history of speaking and writing persuasively, especially in the Classical Greco-Roman eras and the nineteenth-century. A major part of her studies includes examining women’s rhetorical and composing practices from the latter half of the nineteenth-century to show how women moved from a state of enforced public silence and private obedience to altering centuries-held practices of women’s rights to speak, vote, and dress for themselves. Her interest in Steampunk arose directly from her research areas and a love for dressing up.


April 27, 2018
9:00 pm - 9:45 pm
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Salon C


Dr. Renea Frey