On Apes and Aping: Fashion, Modernity and Evolutionary Theories in Nineteenth- century Greece
Author: Yagou, Artemis
Source: Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, Volume 13, Number 3, September 2009 , pp. 325-344(20)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Journals (formerly Berg Journals)
Abstract:During the nineteenth century, dress constituted one of the main and most visible fields of modernization in Greece. “Frankish” clothes became gradually widespread and symbolized the participation in urban modernity and the rejection of a traditional, rural past. Exaggerations in dressing habits, as well as in other manifestations of imitating the “West,” were often a source of derision. This critical attitude is exemplified by the novel The Ape Xouth of 1848, its main character being a man turned ape who acts as a relentless satirist of Athenian reality. The novel’s plot, connecting the human species with other members of the animal kingdom, echoes evolutionary (Lamarckian) theories to which the educated Greek public had already been introduced through a number of publications. The interest in evolutionary theories further increased after the publication of articles related to Darwinian evolution. Evolutionary theories provided a background against which social phenomena, including fashion, were discussed and analyzed. The Greek word for aping was used extensively to describe a state of blind imitation, as opposed to innovation or creative transformation of foreign influences. The interaction between fashion and evolutionary theories in nineteenth-century Greece reflected shifting ideas about the biological other or cultural outsider. Emerging evolutionary theories deeply affected the meaning of authenticity, of the “true self,” and touched on the issue of cultural identity, which was already problematic and highly contested in the young Greek state.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Publication date: 2009-09-01
- Launched in 1997, Fashion Theory is well established as the leading peer-reviewed, international, and interdisciplinary journal for the analysis of all aspects of the cultural significance of dress and fashion worldwide - from Vogue to Versace, from kimonos to kilts, and from footbinding to body piercing.