Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, History, Swarthmore College

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2009
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University
Dressing the Empire: A History of Fashion in Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) China

Involved in a nascent market system, helping to build new hierarchies, and implicated in the structures of gender and ethnic identity, the fashion system of the Tang dynasty (618-907) was integral to larger historical processes. My dissertation seeks to establish the terms of the Tang fashion system by investigating these processes. First, I aim to define the economic and social conditions that allowed for fashion's emergence. My second angle of approach surveys the content and stylistic changes of Tang fashion. Following these two angles of approach, my dissertation will answer three main questions: 1) What is fashion's relationship to a nascent market system? 2) How did competition between old and new elites propel fashion? And 3) What is the relationship between fashion and silk production? In answering these questions, I will illuminate the workings of the market, the Silk Road trade and the textile industry, and shed light on sartorial change, sumptuary legislation, and identity formation to uncover the history of fashion in Tang dynasty China.