Dressing history: Costume as communication in Massachussetts historical tours

Meredith Wilcox-Levine, University of Rhode Island


This study sought to determine the dual role of costume in performance beyond that of visual entertainment, both as a creator of "historical" space and as a conduit for the transfer of meaning as observed on costumed guides in the spectacle of guided tours in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts. A series of site visits, tour shadowing, questionnaires and interviews with tour guides and tourists was used to gain an understanding of the way in which costumes assist live performance in creating an educational, historical atmosphere. Conclusions concerning the success of costume as a non-verbal communication tool, a promoter of visibility in an urban landscape, and the trend surrounding the objectification and dehumanization of costumed guides is discussed and analyzed.

Subject Area

Fashion|Cultural anthropology|Museum studies

Recommended Citation

Meredith Wilcox-Levine, "Dressing history: Costume as communication in Massachussetts historical tours" (2015). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI1600288.