Cross-Dressing the Early Modern: Exploring Transformations through Dress
Cross-dressing in the early modern period is a phenomenon that happened for various reasons in different contexts. Whether it was done to conceal one’s sex in order to protect the wearer or to resume a different identity, dress served as a powerful tool that could be used to disguise and blur gender expectations. From cross-dressing in literature, theatre and stage to cross-dressing in images and art, there are ample historical accounts of various social classes that reveal these transformations. From male actors dressing as women to female courtesans dressing as men the spaces of cross-dressing vary from public to private and the boundaries are often unclear. Disguise, whether it was done for pleasurable pursuits such as during masquerade balls or whether it was done for protection, or professional reasons, reveals various implications of dress in the early modern.
This conference aims to generate a discussion about cross-dressing in the early modern period and explore the significance of transformation through dress in various settings and spaces.