The Corset

A History of Intellectual Property in 50 Objects, Dan Hunter and Claudy Op Den Camp, eds., Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming

Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 307-2017

5 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2017  

Kara W. Swanson

Northeastern University - School of Law

Date Written: December 15, 2017

Abstract

Two centuries ago, women and girls throughout the United States reached for one piece of technology first thing in the morning, and kept it with them all day long -- the corset. Although earlier men had worn corsets, the corset’s purpose by the mid-nineteenth century was to create the public shape of the female body. It emphasized (or depending on the whims of fashion, deemphasized), bust, waist, and hips in ways intended to accentuate differences between male and female. Today, the corset still fascinates, an emblem of femininity that appears on fashion runways, the concert stage (famously worn by pop star Madonna), and in blockbuster movies (Rocky Horror Picture Show, Gone with the Wind). Less visible are the ways the corset as an object of intellectual property has exposed the masculine assumptions in our understanding of technology, patents, and law.

Keywords: technology, patent law, corset

Suggested Citation

Swanson, Kara W., The Corset (December 15, 2017). A History of Intellectual Property in 50 Objects, Dan Hunter and Claudy Op Den Camp, eds., Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming; Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 307-2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3089810

Kara W. Swanson (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - School of Law ( email )

416 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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