Summer 2020

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Type of Paper/Work



Dr. Emily James, Dr. Laura Zebuhr, Dr. Alexis Easley


Charlotte Perkins Gilman, while best known for her fictional work, was also an avid social theorist and political activist. Gilman’s 1915 feminist utopia Herland showcases her ideals at work and how a society free from gender limitations would be healthier and more efficient. While many elements come together to yield such a utopia, this paper positions dress as being a foundational component of the society and text. To bolster this argument, Gilman’s sociological piece, The Dress of Women: a Critical Introduction to the Symbolism and Sociology of Clothing, is considered as a companion text to Herland as both works were serialized in the 1915 editions of Gilman’s self-published magazine Forerunner and should be considered as call and response pieces. Through the lenses of corsets, skirts, and pockets, this paper explores the issues of women’s dress that Gilman explores in The Dress of Women, addresses through Herlandian dress, and how these changes actively create utopian conditions within the novel.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.