Cinderella's Glass Slipper: Towards a Cultural History of Renaissance Materialities

Genevieve Warwick

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract / Description of output

This CUP Elements monograph, arising from underpinning research undertaken for a Leverhulme Trust MRF, addresses the study of Renaissance material cultures through the literary prism of fairy-tale objects. Its significance lies in coupling the study of Renaissance luxury wares with their figurative representation in fairy-tale literature. Through this interdisciplinary approach it offers readers entirely new and original insights into Renaissance material cultures, histories of women, and the social-economics of luxury consumption. By recourse to an efflorescent scholarship on materialities, or the social properties of things, it considers the analysis of cultural value attributed to objects defined as ‘luxury’ or ‘precious’, from architecture to dress. The chapters in turn examine Renaissance fairy-tale objects as literary fiction, as luxury goods, and as economic commodities.

The research materials that underpin the analysis are extensive, ranging from published collections of fairy tales and their place within a larger literary history of the period, to material cultures of luxury manufacturing from jewelled slippers and glacé fruit to glass mirrors, gilded carriages, architectural interiors and furnishings. It studies the representation of dress and interiors within court portraits, printed fashion plates and mannequin dolls, festival libretti and costumes for court balls and ballets, the abundant descriptions of court occasion and dress in letters, diaries and memoirs of the period, and the extensive economic legislation of the luxury industries from sumptuary laws to taxes. With attention to the telling detail – in this instance, the fictive glass slipper of Cinderella’s ballroom dress – it draws on wide-ranging interdisciplinary scholarly literatures at the crossroads of art history, anthropology, historical and literary studies, in order to prize open an historical understanding of artefactual agency.
This book was reviewed in The Observer 18.12.2022 and thereafter a wide range of international media outlets including print magazines and radio (please see attached)
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages75
ISBN (Electronic)9781009263948
ISBN (Print)9781009263986
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Oct 2022

Publication series

NameElements in the Renaissance


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