Colloque "‘Strange Habits’ : Clothes, climes, and the environment in Shakespeare and his contemporaries" : Pré-programme et résumés des communications

Colloque "‘Strange Habits' : Clothes, climes, and the environment in Shakespeare and his contemporaries" : Pré-programme et résumés des communications

‘Strange Habits’ : Clothes, climes, and the environment in Shakespeare and his contemporaries

Organized by Sophie Chiari (Université Clermont Auvergne) and Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise (Institut Universitaire de France, Université Paris-3 Sorbonne Nouvelle)

14-16 May 2020

International Conference - Université Clermont Auvergne (UCA)

Site internet dédié :

Call for papers

Confirmed speakers :
Patricia Lennox (The Gallatin School, New York University)
Ulinka Rublak (University of Cambridge)
Dympna Callaghan (Syracuse University)
Sophie Jane Pitman (Aalto University)

Taking a cue from the current growth of ecocriticism and of material approaches in Shakespeare studies as well as in global Renaissance studies, this conference seeks to cross and confront those two critical trends by looking at one same object — clothing. Clothing can be explored from a variety of perspectives and calls for cross-disciplinary dialogue between social history, art history, dramatic history, fashion history, literature, sociology, and anthropology. The sheer variety of terms that can be used to designate clothing speaks to the far-reaching implications of dress. The now archaic term “habit,” referring at once to a “garment” or “apparel” and, beyond that, to a person’s outward appearance, was of common usage in the early modern period and was the word Shakespeare favoured in reference to clothing in his plays. While it can designate the dress or attire of a function or profession, it also introduces the notions of characteristic behaviour, natural mode of growth, and habitation (or habitat). The conference will focus on early modern dress such as it is represented on stage and the ways in which dress mediates England’s relation to foreign places and “climes.”

While the relation between dress and gender, disguise and identity-building, and the importance of the numerous sumptuary laws in the shaping of social identity has been largely explored, much less attention has been devoted to the relation between dress and the ecological environments for which dress was devised. Whether worn by the poor, the middling sort, or the nobility, clothes need to be looked at not only in the relation to broad social, cultural, and material contexts, but also in relation to climactic or geographic environments. Because clothes protect the human body and serve as an interface between the body and the environment, dress can be considered as the most immediate locus for the establishment of any sort of ecology, in its etymological sense of a “discourse” or “science” of the oikos, that is of the home, or human habitat. From their production down to the way they are worn, clothes interweave natural materials and artifice, the human body and the social body, the weather conditions and the culture in which they are born and those to which they adapt. They come to materialize and epitomize identity in its various inclinations and inflections. Conversely, they participate in shaping the environments or the landscapes for whose diversity they stand metonymically.

In staging climes through costumes, Shakespeare and his contemporaries invite us to decentre our perspective by, first, looking beyond clothes as an object and clothes as a means of fashioning personal identity and personae (or impersonations) on stage, toward clothes as a privileged space of “eco-logy,” and second, by adopting an anthropological gaze on early modern English dress and culture. It is through a confrontation with foreign dress, that is with the materials of difference, that English identity can be better gauged. Ultimately, this conference aims at exploring how dramatic text and textile enrich each other in the early modern period, and how dress and costume are essential in England’s attempt to define its own cultural identity within a new global space inclusive of many different climes reflected on stage.

We are seeking proposals that inquire into the complex ecology, economy and anthropology of dress, drawing notably on the material history of concrete elements such as pigments, dies, and raw materials (sometimes imported from distant regions and climes) used to make clothing and costumes. We also invite papers with more literary approaches that look at the ways in which dress on stage becomes a means to negotiate the self or same in relation to the other or embodies contemporary understandings of climes and the environment. Proposals may focus on a specific costume or a specific dramatic corpus by Shakespeare or one of his contemporaries. Comparative approaches, drawing on European and Global materials and practices, are also encouraged.

The conference will include outreach activities, such as workshops and round-tables open to the general public. We welcome proposals in English from established scholars, doctoral students, curators and other professionals working on or with early modern dress and more contemporary costumes representing that period.


THURSDAY (Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, AMPHI 219)

9.00 Coffee and Registration

9.30 Welcome Speech

10.00 Opening Keynote

CHAIR : Line Cottegnies (Paris Sorbonne Université)

Unlinka RUBLACK (University of Cambridge) : The Triumph of Fashion : A Global History


CHAIR : Ladan Niayesh (Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7)

  • 11.00 TUDEAU-CLAYTON Margaret (University of Neuchâtel) : Without a National Dress but a Climate of their Own : The Invention of the ‘Temperate’ English Climate, Character and Constitution
  • 11.30 May-Shine LIN (National Chengchi University, Taiwan) : From Well-Dressed to Naked Ancestors : Antiquarian Writing and Visualizing of Ancient Britons in Shakespeare’s England
  • 12.00 Stéphanie MERCIER (University of Helsinki) : Subverting the Strange Habit of Saint George in Shakespeare



CHAIR : Anne-Valérie Dulac (Paris Sorbonne Université)

  • 14.00 Sélima LEJRI (University of Tunis) : ‘Dian’s Shrouds’ and ‘Black Tempests’ : Pre-Roman Rite of Passage in Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage
  • 14.30 Patricia RAVEL (UCA, France) : ‘Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off, / And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark’ : Meteorological Climate, Political Atmosphere, and Clothing in Shakespeare’s Hamlet




CHAIR : Aurélie Griffin (Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle)

  • Ladan NIAYESH (Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7) : ‘Investing/divesting Islam on the Early Modern Stage’
  • Anne GEOFFROY (Université Versailles Saint Quentin) : ‘Fabrics, Fashion and the Environment : Representing Venice in Early Modern England’
  • Anne-Valérie DULAC (Paris Sorbonne) : De Heere’s Theatre of Costumes : Staging New Ecologies
  • Sophie LEMERCIER-GODDARD (ENS de Lyon) : Changing Habit : The Politics and Theatricality of Clothing in Early Modern Voyages to the Artic

17.30 Keynote

CHAIR : Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise (Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle)

Sophie Jane PITMAN (Aalto University, Finland) : Apparel for Rain : Keeping Dry, Warm, Clean and Healthy in Early Modern London

FRIDAY (Maison des Sciences de l’Homme)

9.00 Keynote

CHAIR : Sophie Chiari (Université Clermont Auvergne)

Dympna CALLAGHAN (Syracuse University) : ‘Garnished and Decked’ : Fashioning Shakespearean Accessories


CHAIR : Russell Jackson (University of Birmingham)

  • 10.00 Madeleine BARNES (CUNY) : Women’s Work : Embroidery as a Vehicle for Shaping Identity and Environment
  • 10.30 Lisa HOPKINS (Sheffield Hallam University) : Flowers and Needles : Emilia’s Skirt
  • 11.00 François LAROQUE (Université Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle) : ‘Handy dandy’, which is the hand, which is the glove ? Love and Gloves in Shakespeare

LUNCH (Pavillon Lecoq)


CHAIR : Sophie Lemercier-Goddard (École Normale Supérieure de Lyon)


  • Danièle BERTON (Université Clermont Auvergne) : Clad in Rags : Ecopsychology and Transtextuality
  • Valentina FINGER (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich) : Fashioning Falstaff : Dress and Disguise in Shakespeare’s Henry IV and The Merry Wives of Windsor
  • Chantal SCHÜTZ (Ecole Polytechnique, Paris) : ‘We’re all male to th’middle, mankind from the beaver to th’bum’ : Ambivalent Fashions and the Fashioning of Gender in Middleton’s City Comedies
  • Hannah DE WITT (Edinburgh University) : The Other Mary ? The Significance of Mary Fitzallard’s Disguises against the Masculinity of Moll Cutpurse (Edinburgh University)



CHAIR : Anne Rouhette (Université Clermont Auvergne)


  • Charles WHITWORTH (Université Paul Valéry – Montpellier III) : Apes, Gulls and Fashion Victims : Dress and Undress in the London Pamphlets of Thomas Dekker
  • Anna DEMOUX (UCA, France) : Changing Habits in the Quarto and Folio Version of Ben Jonson’s Every Man in his Humour
  • Anne Marie MILLER-BLAISE (Université Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle) : John Webster and the Materials of Satire



17.30 An Interview led by Anne-Marie Miller Blaise (Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle) and Sophie Chiari (Université Clermont Auvergne)

Perry MILLS (King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon)


SATURDAY (Centre National du Costume de Scène, MOULINS)

10.00 Keynote

CHAIR : Ariane Fennetaux

Patricia LENNOX (New York University, Gallatin School) : Not Too Far and Not Too Near : Shakespeare, Costume and Performance


CHAIR : Chantal Schütz

  • 11.00 Julianna VISCO (Columbia University) : Makers of Text and Makers of Craft
  • 11.30 Daniel BENDER (Pace University, New York) : The Victors’ Secret : Silk versus Wool in 2 Henry VI
  • 12.00 Sophie CHIARI (UCA) : ‘Her clothes spread wide / And mermaid-like while they bore her up’ : Water-infused Clothes and Climes on the Early Modern Stage
  • 12.30 Armelle SABATIER (Université Panthéon Assas, France) : Discoloured Taffeta and Variable Colours : Materialising Iris’ Rainbow Stage Costume in Jacobean Drama



14.30 Ariane FENNETAUX (Université Paris Diderot), Sébastien PASSOT (costumier, The School of Historical Dress)


Advisory board :

  • Anne-Valérie Dulac (Sorbonne Université)
  • Russell Jackson (University of Birmingham)
  • Sophie Lemercier-Goddard (Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon)
  • Robert Lublin (University of Massachusetts Boston) Chantal Schütz (Ecole Polytechnique)

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