Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Rural Agricultural Technological and Environmental History

First Advisor

John Monroe

Second Advisor

Julie Courtwright


Because of changes due to Atlantic trade, commerce, consumption, and continual expansion across the globe, ideas of the natural and artificial shifted rapidly for those in the British North Atlantic during the mid-to-late eighteenth century. An increased relationship between the idea of the control of nature and greater human improvement through clothing, hairdressing, and costuming emerged. This meant that clothing styles changed very quickly. Certain items of clothes, along with the actions of transgressive dressing prompted contemporaries to revisit and reconsider their relationship with nature and artifice. Clothing's greater availability made it an unreliable tool for creating distinctions between people, which historically it had been able to do well. Nevertheless, contemporaries continued to select it as a theme of discussion. The inability to decide whether the genteel body was inherently perfect or needed "improvement" meant that social commentators and contemporaries alike had variating ideas about clothing and its relationship to "the natural." Three different styles of clothing, luxurious, modest, and simple which appeared throughout the last half of the eighteenth century, showcased these contrasting ideas about clothing's role in the natural. Inappropriate actions of dressing only further complicated this confusion, creating unnatural, "social monsters."


Copyright Owner

Brenna Buchanan



File Format


File Size

220 pages

Included in

History Commons