In gold-rush Australia, social identity was in flux: gold promised access to fashionable new clothes, a grand home, and the goods to furnish it, but could not buy gentility. Needlework and Women's Identity in Colonial Australia explores how the wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters who migrated to the newly formed colony of Victoria used their needle skills as a powerful claim to social standing.
Focusing on one of women's most common daily tasks, the book examines how needlework's practice and products were vital in the contest for social position in the turmoil of the first two decades of the Victorian rush from 1851. Placing women firmly at the center of colonial history, it explores how the needle became a tool for stitching together identity. From decorative needlework to household making and mending, women's sewing was a vehicle for establishing, asserting, and maintaining social status.
Interdisciplinary in scope, Needlework and Women's Identity in Colonial Australia draws on material culture, written primary sources, and pictorial evidence, to create a rich portrait of the objects and manners that defined genteel goldfields living. Giving voice to women's experiences and positioning them as key players in the fabric of gold-rush society, this volume offers a fresh critical perspective on gender and textile history.
Dr Lorinda Cramer
Bloomsbury Visual Arts
Country of Publication:
05 September 2019
List of Illustrations Acknowledgments Introduction 1. Women, Work, and the Needle 2. Making Women: An Education in Needlework 3. Constructing the Genteel Woman: Fancywork and Femininity 4. Industrious Women: Duty, Virtue, and Plain Sewing 5. Dressing the Part: Dressmaking in the Home 6. A Good Wife and Mother: Clothing the Family Conclusion Notes Bibliography Index
Lorinda Cramer was previously Associate Research Fellow at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globilisation, Deakin University, Australia, and is now Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Australian Catholic University.
Reviews for Needlework and Women's Identity in Colonial Australia
Cramer expertly combines theory with close readings of material objects to illuminate women's crucial but often overlooked contributions to the solidification of British colonial power. * Ariel Beaujot, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, USA * In this highly original study, readers can see anew how genteel women made and remade themselves through needlework. A compelling read with aptly chosen objects and images. * Bronwyn Labrum, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa *