New Book | Credit, Fashion, Sex in Old Regime France

Posted in books by Editor on March 21, 2014

From Duke UP:

Clare Haru Crowston, Credit, Fashion, Sex: Economies of Regard in Old Regime France (Duke University Press, 2013), 448 pages, ISBN: 978-0822355137 (hardcover), $100 / ISBN: 978-0822355281 (paperback), $28.

978-0-8223-5528-1_prIn Old Regime France credit was both a central part of economic exchange and a crucial concept for explaining dynamics of influence and power in all spheres of life. Contemporaries used the term credit to describe reputation and the currency it provided in court politics, literary production, religion, and commerce. Moving beyond Pierre Bourdieu’s theorization of capital, this book establishes credit as a key matrix through which French men and women perceived their world. As Clare Haru Crowston demonstrates, credit unveils the personal character of market transactions, the unequal yet reciprocal ties binding society, and the hidden mechanisms of political power.

Credit economies constituted ‘economies of regard’ in which reputation depended on embodied performances of credibility. Crowston explores the role of fashionable appearances and sexual desire in leveraging credit and reconstructs women’s vigorous participation in its gray markets. The scandalous relationship between Queen Marie Antoinette and fashion merchant Rose Bertin epitomizes the vertical loyalties and deep social divides of the credit regime and its increasingly urgent political stakes.

Clare Haru Crowston is Associate Professor of History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of Fabricating Women: The Seamstresses of Old Regime France, 1675–1791, also published by Duke University Press.


Illustrations and Tables  ix
Money and Measurements  xi
Acknowledgments  xiii
Introduction  1
1. Credit and Old Regime Economies of Regard  21
2. Critiques and Crises of the Credit System  56
3. Incredible Style: Intertwined Circuits of Credit, Fashion, and Sex  96
4. Credit in the Fashion Trades of Eighteenth-Century Paris  139
5. Fashion Merchants: Managing Credit, Narrating Collapse  195
6. Madame Déficit and Her Minister of Fashion: Self-Fashioning and the Politics of Credit  246
7. Family Affairs: Consumption, Credit, and the Marriage Bond  283
Conclusion. Credit is Dead. Long Live Credit!  316
Notes  329
Bibliography  383
Index  407

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