The art and science of walking: mobility, gender and footwear in the long eighteenth century
McNeill, Peter and Riello, Giorgio. (2005) The art and science of walking: mobility, gender and footwear in the long eighteenth century. Fashion Theory: the journal of dress, body and culture, 9 (2). pp. 175-204. ISSN 1362-704XFull text not available from this repository.
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/136270405778051338
In the early eighteenth century mobility within the urban or rural environments was confined to restricted areas. In the town, the bad state of streets did not allow “walking for pleasure” outside the private parks or pleasure gardens. This situation underwent a sudden change in the mid-eighteenth century. The provision of public spaces in which to walk was part of the urban improvement measures of many British towns. This paper examines how these changes were mirrored in material artefacts such as footwear. Patterns, clogs and other devices designed to keep feet above ground level quickly disappeared, allowing easier mobility. However, these changes were negotiated in different ways in the public sphere by men and women. While men's footwear embraced functional notions, women's shoes became expressive of a female environment increasingly considered to be a domestic and private space. Men's boots contrasted with light and flimsy neoclassical women's shoes. By the end of the century boots became symbolic of democracy and participation in public affairs. The product's image was reshaped by military values - the famous Wellington boots are a good example of this phenomenon. Women, on the other hand, wore stylish but impractical shoes that were unsuitable for outdoor activities. The reason for these changes were political and social and were supplemented by a vast medical literature - mainly for women - on health and posture. The physical barriers that prevented free mobility gave way to more socially, culturally and psychologically constructed barriers.
|Item Type:||Journal Article|
|Subjects:||D History General and Old World > D History (General)|
|Divisions:||Faculty of Arts > History|
|Journal or Publication Title:||Fashion Theory: the journal of dress, body and culture|
|Page Range:||pp. 175-204|
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