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El triunfo de lo efimero: Visiones de la moda en la literatura peninsular moderna (1728–1926)

Ana Maria Diaz-Marcos, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation explores the ideas about fashion and luxury in literary texts from the eighteenth century to the early twentieth century. The first chapter reviews the concept of “fashion,” its meaning and implications, and provides an overview of the most important theories that have attempted to explain why fashion exists and how it is originated. The second chapter is devoted to the study of the controversy about fashion and luxury during the Enlightenment, with an emphasis on the national and patriotic implications of that discussion, and on the generic aspects of a controversy in which both male and female are subjected to scrutiny and criticism for their fashionable, effeminate and unpatriotic behavior. The primary sources used for this chapter are the eighteenth century periodical El censor , the Cartas marruecas by José de Cadalso and El libro del agrado by Luis de Eijoecente. The third chapter explores the ideas and rhetoric about fashion in nineteenth century novels by Benito Pérez Galdós—especially La de Bringas—and in some writings by Emilia Pardo Bazán. The most important issues addressed are the feminization of fashion in that period, when fashion starts to be considered a feminine affair and this belief—held by novelists and theorists—is analyzed and deconstructed. The second issue is the traditional explanation of fashion as imitation of the behavior and manners of the upper classes, which explains the Victorian anxieties about fashion in the light of class competition and the worries about the confusion of classes. The fourth chapter explores the ideas about fashion and fashionability in the works of the most important writers about female education (such as Fenelon, Rousseau, Wollstonecraft and Taylor-Mill), and examines the ideas about fashion in two female Spanish writers who took part in the polemic about the female education and emancipation: Concepción Arenal and Rosario Acuña. The chapter concludes with a close analysis of the work done in the 1920 by Carmen de Burgos, a writer, feminist and journalist who celebrated fashion as art and feminine expression. One of the main conclusions of this dissertation is that the late nineteenth century marks a change from a culture of luxury to a culture of fashion in a capitalist world where being fashionable no longer means being able to purchase the most expensive fabrics and embroideries.

Subject Area

Literature|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Diaz-Marcos, Ana Maria, "El triunfo de lo efimero: Visiones de la moda en la literatura peninsular moderna (1728–1926)" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3078677.