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That's SO last century: [electronic resource] : fashion and modiality in Melville's Typee

Publication Date
  • Melville
  • Herman
  • 1819-1891.
  • Clothing And Dress
  • Fashion
  • Self-Perception In Literature.
  • Fashion In Literature.
  • Literature
  • Psychology


A literary text is a means for critics to analyze societal influence on the author, and both fashion and body modification serve this same function because they are legible texts with which to interpret the psychological motivations of the wearer in the cultural context in which he or she lives. Fashion theorists such as Roland Barthes and J.C. Flugel have detailed the reasons that they believe dress evolves throughout time, and the following thesis applies their theories to Melville's first novel Typee. In the first chapter, entitled, "Moral Fibers: Dress as the Extension of Self," much emphasis is given to archetypes of dress such as the veil, the corset and military uniforms in the Orient and the Occident. The second chapter, "Cut From the Same Cloth: Body Modification as Semiotic Modality," discusses ritualistic tattooing as a mode of literary expression.

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