The Most Important Dress in the Country”: The Rhetoric of Glamour in the Smithsonian’s “The First Ladies
Links to Fileshttp://proxy-ub.researchport.umd.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=asn&AN=124585065&site=eds-live
MetadataShow full item record
Type of Work35 pages
Citation of Original PublicationKeohane, J. (2017). “The Most Important Dress in the Country”: The Rhetoric of Glamour in the Smithsonian’s “The First Ladies.” Women’s Studies in Communication, 40(3), 270–288. https://doi.org/10.1080/07491409.2017.1346531
This article examines the exhibit “The First Ladies” in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The exhibit, composed primarily of inauguration gowns and china settings from state dinners, has existed since the early twentieth century and is one of the Smithsonian’s most popular and controversial exhibits. I argue that “The First Ladies” relies on a rhetoric of glamour that emphasizes the perfection, ease, and mystery of those who hold this role. This rhetoric constructs a subjectivity for viewers as spectators appreciative of the elite culture on display that perpetuates a masculine way of seeing.