Fashioning Faces: The Portraitive Mode in British Romanticism
In this ambitious cross-disciplinary study, Elizabeth A. Fay examines the Romantic era in Britain as a transitional period leading to the modernist focus on identity formation and legibility. Inventing the term “portraitive mode” to describe a diversity of cultural and material expressions of identity, such as visual and verbal portraits, miniatures, poetry, caricatures, and biographical dictionaries, she examines a widespread cultural shift toward a world of faces and figures that foreshadows today’s increasingly common self-reflections and depictions.
Fay places portraiture within broader cultural currents, such as fashion and consumption, the rise of celebrity culture, personal collections and house museums, and travel literature. Synthesizing a vast array of material and tying together diverse artistic, literary, and cultural modes, she sheds new light on the historical significance of portraits and the centrality of Romantic portraiture as a vehicle for expression and subjective exploration.
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