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Underpinnings: The Evolution of Underwear from the Middle Ages through Early Modernity

The painting Titian's Flora

A conference on Saturday, April 24, 2010 in the Fine Arts 258 & Grand Corridor , organized by the undergraduate students of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Binghamton University (Binghamton, NY) in conjunction with Troubadours and Trebuchets, The Medieval Studies Club

From the trailing sleeves and towering headdresses of the High Middle Ages to the ornate, jewel-encrusted ensembles of Elizabethan England and the elaborate turbans of the Mamluk and Ottoman empires, clothing and headgear have captured the imagination of historians for decades. Few, however, have given thought to what lies beneath, which, even while having a functional role, comprises a system of sartorial signs that tell much with respect to social mores and shifting views of the body. This conference aims to explore the evolution of undergarments from the Middle Ages through the early modern era in a variety of contexts, from the material forms of the garments themselves to their symbolic associations and latent meaning.

1:00 PM – 1:30 PM Kristen Stewart, The Metropolitan Museum of Art:
“His and Hers: What can underwear tell us about evolving concepts of gender between 500 and 1750 AD”

 1:40 PM – 1:50 PM Break

 1: 50 PM – 2:10 PM Kirsten Rowe, Binghamton University:
“The Aesthetics of Under-Dress”

 2:10 PM – 2:30 PM Emily Campbell, Binghamton University:
“Anger and Undergarments in the History of Tom Jones, a Foundling”

 2:40 PM – 2:55 PM Break

 2:55 PM – 3:15 PM Heather Allen and Catherine Dolber, Binghamton University:
“Gilded Cages: Imprisoning the Feminine in the Courts of Louis XIV and Peter the Great”

 3:15 PM – 3:35 PM Katie Albitz, Binghamton University:
“May no man rede here atyre, ne naught wel thenke yn hert: The Sexualization of Dame Tryamour”

 3:35 PM – 3:55 PM Hattie Presnell, High Point University:
“Expanding a Nation: The evolution of farthingales during the reign of the Tudors”

 4:05 PM – 4:15 PM Break

 4:15 PM – 4:45 PM Carole Frick, Ph.D., Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville:
“Under-Over-Under: the curious case of codpieces”

 5:00 PM – 6:45 PM Living History Exhibit, Grand Corridor of the Fine Arts Building

 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM Conference Dinner, Chenango Room

This conference is open to the public. The registration form to reserve seats for the presentations and conference dinner can be downloaded here (pdf, 40KB)


Information on traveling to Binghamton University can be found at this website:

Information on parking can be found at this website:

Information on local hotels and lodging options can be found at this website:


Last Updated: 9/9/16