Clothing the saints and furnishing Heaven : a Puritan legacy in the New World
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The thesis deals with the concepts of Millenarianism and the witnessing of Faith through costume, textiles and related arts. The responses of five religious sects, Amish, Shaker, Puritan, Quakers and Mennonites, are examined. This text falls into two discrete sections. Chapter One details the historic background of the sects. Subsequent chapters outline the Millennial impulse of the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries and resulting emigration to the New World. These chapters detail Utopian social models and a discussion of textiles and clothing as indicators of history and human experience. Chapter Three is an overview of religious iconography in this area of American art, touching on themes and the role in society of both the art and the artist. It discusses allegory and symbolism in the visual arts. The second half of the thesis focuses on the costume and textiles of each group. Particular consideration is given to the use of iconography, symbolism and allegory in their visual creations. Internal doctrinal differences are examined such as interpretations of the Biblical injuction to be 'plain', and the central role that the concept of being 'not conformed to the World' plays in the social/aesthetic/religious development of the sects. Apparent theological contradictions are highlighted and addressed. Pressures on each sect to adapt to the cultural norm that have resulted in change and disintegration are detailed.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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