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Title: Hair, wigs and wig wearing in eighteenth-century England
Author: Markiewicz, Emma
ISNI:       0000 0004 5349 8789
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis explores the period of prominence experienced by wigs and wig wearing in England from the late seventeenth to the latter decades of the eighteenth century. Its primary focus is the ‘raw material’ from which wigs were made: human hair. Being produced from a part of the body placed wigs in a unique position as fashionable items. The act of ‘making’ a wig entailed taking a natural entity growing on the head, and turning it into an intrinsically unnatural artefact. ‘Wearing’ a wig meant for the wearer to invest time in shaving or cutting his own hair. Questions about why this became such an important and fashionable practice are explored here by starting with the hair itself, a topic not generally considered by the extensive literature on eighteenth-century wigs and wig-wearing. My thesis highlights the diverse functions a wig could fulfil, by presenting hair in the context of eighteenth-century understanding of medicine and the body. These functions included protecting the wearer from the elements and potential contagion, projecting a more healthy or youthful appearance, and marking status or profession. This thesis considers how hair - as part of the body - became a highly desirable commodity, and the moral and physical implications this entailed. The physicality of the raw material affected those who traded in human hair and made a living out of producing wigs, as well as those who wore wigs that defined their public image. This thesis challenges existing work, which has tended to focus on gender and dress, by emphasising the connection of hair to the body and how this was translated into the conspicuous fashion for wigs.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GT Manners and customs