Alumna Avery Novitch to present “A Kept Woman: The Cost of Materialism in the Novellas of Edith Wharton.”

Description of Talk​: ​

In Edith Wharton’s fictional world of nineteenth-century New York, fashion becomes an art form that embodies both the practice of consumption and the desire for stylish sophistication. It is not merely a standard of elegance in dress, but rather a conceptual system that artistically defines and dictates behaviors, practices, and attitudes. Ms. Novitch’s talk will explore the culture of materialism in Wharton’s Old New York, particularly as it is portrayed in the novellas “New Year’s Day” and “The Old Maid,” and the ways in which characters, especially women, express themselves and communicate with others through the exchange, possession, and display of objects. Examining the role of fashion and luxury within Wharton’s novellas sheds light on the relationship between identity and material culture in nineteenth-century America.

Avery Novitch is a Master of Arts candidate at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s School of Graduate Studies Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, and Museum Practice. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Union College in 2016. At Union, Ms. Novitch explored fashion history and criticism through her Sophomore Research Seminar project and a Seward Fellowship. Her senior honors English thesis, “‘And I am a Material Girl’: How Aesthetics and Material Culture Fashion Femininity in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, from Text to Film,” theorizes the topic of fashion and materiality in Wharton’s work. In 2016, Ms. Novitch received the David Brind Memorial Prize for English.

Avery has worked at the Museum of Innovation and Science, the Ukrainian Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Additionally, she has worked in collections management at Helen Uffner Vintage Clothing, a period clothing rental house. She will be presenting her paper, “Jenneration Z: How Kylie Jenner Embodies Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle” at the Fashion, Costume, and Visual Cultures conference this summer at the University of Zagreb in Croatia.

Skip to toolbar