Tonight, I am going to a gallery opening at a museum in Burlington. It’s called the “Impossible Ideal: Victorian Fashion and Femininity.” It should be quite interesting, especially to see how another museum does their openings. Here is a description of the exhibit:
The Victorian era (1837-1901), named for the reign of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, is known for extreme expressions of women’s fashion, and for a narrow definition of women’s roles in society. Tight-laced corsets, wide hoop skirts, bustles, and trains exaggerated women’s forms while restricting their movement and activity. Thus fashion, and the popular magazines that promoted it, reinforced the “cult of domesticity”—the idea that women’s place was in the home and not the public sphere. This feminine ideal belonged to an urban leisure class, excluding great swaths of rural or working class populations. Mass print culture also implicitly and explicitly promoted a vision of the ideal woman as white and Protestant rather than any other race or religion.
Even as mainstream periodicals promoted the Victorian cult of domesticity, they also provided a forum for debate about the “woman question:” to what degree should women be educated, seek work outside the home, and have certain rights within marriage, including the right to divorce. These discussions were evidence of a growing restlessness on the part of women, and an ambivalence on the part of the magazines’ editors and contributors, many of them female. While mid-century styles reflected the restrictiveness of women’s roles, by the 1890s fashion evolved to express increasing autonomy. Sleeker skirts, broader shoulders, lighter fabrics, and suit styles that mimicked menswear gave women greater freedom of movement, representing how more women were venturing outside the home for education, excercise, or to work for philanthropic or activist causes.
Through women’s clothing and accessories from the Fleming Museum’s collection, along with excerpts from popular American women’s magazines such as Godey’s Lady’s Book and Peterson’s Magazine, this exhibition explores how fashion embodied the many contradictions of Victorian women’s lives, and, eventually, the growing call for more diverse definitions of women’s roles and identities.
I’m busier than I ever have been at work. When I actually have time to sit at my desk it’s not for long. Today is going to be very busy. I’ll be teaching two classes and then I, along with the whole university, have to attend a Title IX training.
If you don’t know what Title IX is, it simply states “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” This law includes sexual assault and harassment. So we have to be trained in it. The only good thing is that the Title IX officer is cute, gay, and has a great butt that he likes to accentuate with tight pants. So that will be the morning.
The afternoon will be going through architectural drawings to decide which are worth keeping. To say the least, it will be a busy day. There are other things going on too, such as the online class I am “teaching.” And then there are a few other things not worth mentioning at this time, but they keep me busy as well.
The cooling off has finally begun. That’s not to say we won’t have another warm spell, but for at least the next ten days, our highs will be in the 60s. I love this type of weather. I hate the heat. I’m okay with the cold, but it’s the cooler temperature in the fall and spring that I crave.
by George Herbert
How fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean
Are Thy returns! ev’n as the flow’rs in Spring,
To which, besides their own demean
The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring;
Grief melts away
Like snow in May,
As if there were no such cold thing.
Who would have thought my shrivel’d heart
Could have recover’d greennesse? It was gone
Quite under ground; as flow’rs depart
To see their mother-root, when they have blown,
Where they together
All the hard weather,
Dead to the world, keep house unknown.
These are Thy wonders, Lord of power,
Killing and quickning, bringing down to Hell
And up to Heaven in an houre;
Making a chiming of a passing-bell.
We say amisse
This or that is;
Thy word is all, if we could spell.
O that I once past changing were,
Fast in Thy Paradise, where no flower can wither;
Many a Spring I shoot up fair,
Offring at Heav’n, growing and groning thither,
Nor doth my flower
Want a Spring-showre,
My sinnes and I joyning together.
But while I grow in a straight line,
Still upwards bent, as if Heav’n were mine own,
Thy anger comes, and I decline:
What frost to that? what pole is not the zone
Where all things burn,
When Thou dost turn,
And the least frown of Thine is shown?
And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing: O, my onely Light,
It cannot be
That I am he
On whom Thy tempests fell all night.
These are Thy wonders, Lord of love,
To make us see we are but flow’rs that glide;
Which when we once can find and prove,
Thou hast a garden for us where to bide.
Who would be more,
Swelling through store,
Forfeit their Paradise by their pride.