Elizabeth Maddock Dillon
Cathy D. Matson, Marina Leslie, Nicole Aljoe
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Department or Academic Unit
College of Social Sciences and Humanities. Department of English.
early Atlantic writing, textiles, creole societies, women
Art and Design | Book and Paper | Literature in English, North America, ethnic and minority | Social History | Women's Studies
This dissertation examines the parallel lives of texts and textiles in the long eighteenth century. Looking at the textile trade alongside early Atlantic printing and paper making practices invites us to consider how these two related mediums were fundamental to the social fabrication of Atlantic subjects and creole societies. While scholars have posited that the circulation of texts and images allowed readers to forge transatlantic communities, in an age of paper shortages, relatively low literacy rates, and fairly limited access to printed texts, far more people had ready access to one of the most basic—and yet most valuable—items of household and early industrial production: that item, of course, was cloth. Moreover, while I argue that women's work with textiles plays an essential role in the Atlantic circulation of ideas and practices—a role, that is, that we usually attribute solely to print—this work, nonetheless, was also central to the rise of eighteenth-century print culture: printed on rag paper, bound in linen and silk boards, and stitched together with a variety of different threads, texts bear the mark of women laboring in flax fields and early cotton, wool, and silk cottage industries, and as spinners, seamstresses, and laundresses. Public prints have more to tell us than the words inked on the page: printed on paper made from household rags, novels, newspapers, broadsides, paper money, contracts, indentures, and manumission papers, in fact, narrate histories of domestic life and labor. That is, we might say that women's cloth work keeps the transatlantic trade in books and texts alive and well. In this sense, cloth industries not only establish a discourse shared by laborers, manufacturers, and consumers; rather, we might say that textiles also, in fact, inhabit and colonize these print materials, thereby revealing the many ways through which women from diverse backgrounds may have "written" their way into public discourses dominated by elite men.
Danielle Catherine Skeehan
Skeehan, Danielle Catherine, "Creole domesticity: women, commerce, and kinship in early Atlantic writing" (2013). English Dissertations. Paper 16. http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d20003067
Available for download on Sunday, May 10, 2015
Click button above to open, or right-click to save.