Weber, Caroline 1969-

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Weber, Caroline 1969-

PERSONAL: Born 1969; married. Education: Harvard University, B.A., 1991; Yale University, Ph.D., 1998.

ADDRESSES: Home— New York, NY. Office— Barnard College, Columbia University, 305 Milbank Hall, 1150 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027. E-mail— [email protected]

CAREER: Writer, historian, and educator. Barnard College, Columbia University, associate professor of French. Taught for seven years at the University of Pennsylvania.

WRITINGS

Terror and Its Discontents: Suspect Words in Revolutionary France, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to books, including French Popular Culture: An Introduction, edited by Hugh Dauncey, Hodder Arnold (London, England), 2003;Gender and Utopianism in the Eighteenth Century, edited by Nicole Pohl and Brenda Tooley, Routledge (New York, NY), 2004; and Columbia Dictionary of Twentieth-Century French Thought, edited by Lawrence D. Kritzman, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to journals and periodicals, including Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, South Central Review, Philosophy and Literature, Yale French Studies, Lacanian Ink, and Utah Foreign Language Review.

SIDELIGHTS: Author and historian Caroline Weber is an associate professor French at Columbia University’s Barnard College. A specialist in French literature, history, and culture, Weber frequently writes on issues related to aspects of life in Revolutionary France. In Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution, Weber explores the very real impact of clothing and fashion on the politics and culture of France in the late eighteenth century. Fashion during the days of Marie Antoinette cannot be dismissed as the whims of royalty and dalliances of the rich, whose towering hairdos, elaborate cosmetics, and frilly outfits were just another way to pass the time at the top of the socioeconomic ladder. Weber explains that in pre-republican France, power was precisely reflected in appearances and behavior. The wealthy and powerful of France, therefore, displayed their status conspicuously by their luxurious garments, fanciful hair styles, and affected deportment. Power was defined by fashion, and fashion as created and encouraged by Marie Antoinette was a political game played with real and sometimes deadly results. This ostentatious display of wealth, Weber notes, was generally resented by the poor and lower classes of French society, which helped fuel the hatred that led to the overthrow of the monarchy during the French Revolution. The queen herself refused to obey accepted fashion codes in France, declining to wear constricting whalebone corsets, reintroducing her most opulent jewelry, and asserting her own personality and identity in her clothing choices. To her last, Marie Antoinette understood the strength of character and potency of statement that well-selected clothing could relate to onlookers. Weber’s “account of the queen’s final appearance—all in glorious white—on the ride to the guillotine carries enormous poignancy,” remarked a Kirkus Reviews critic. “This thoroughly researched, intelligently presented and supported portrait will best serve scholars of history and culture,” noted James F. DeRoche in the Library Journal. Though “the book is rigorously researched, Weber’s narrative style is energetic and alive with her own feminine pleasure at a beautiful dress or an outrageous pouf,” observed Lisa Schwarzbaum in Entertainment Weekly.A Publishers Weekly contributor called Weber’s work a “prodigiously researched, deliciously detailed study” of the unlikely combination of politics and fashion. “Using bold and engaging prose, the author has created a whole new appreciation for academic writings,” commented Booklist reviewer Barbara Jacobs.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 15, 2006, Barbara Jacobs, review of Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution, p. 11.

Entertainment Weekly, September 22, 2006, Lisa Schwarzbaum, “Classic Frock,” review of Queen of Fashion, p. 96.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2006, review of Queen of Fashion, p. 776.

Library Journal, October 1, 2006, James F. DeRoche, review of Queen of Fashion, p. 70.

Publishers Weekly, July 31, 2006, review of Queen of Fashion, p. 66.

ONLINE

Columbia University Web site, http://www.columbia.edu/ (January 22, 2007), biography of Caroline Weber.*

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