News of Research at the Institute: GENEALOGY OF THE CRINOLINE … ‘Accusation of Superficial Analogies’

More critical members of the Institute have been quick to point out, however, that this is at best merely suggestive, at worst a superficial analogy (see previous post). One especially powerful argument discussed by our researchers in the Institute is the view that the crinoline’s resistance to representation is different in kind from that of the ammonite. Seen from above, the ammonite fossil clearly reveals its spiral form.


A crinoline imagined from an aerial view, as if from the height of the crinoline wearer’s own imaginative centre, presents itself somewhat reductively as a layered series of hoops. Whereas the ammonite reveals its organic circularity as a continuous swirl, the metallic crinoline can collapse into a puddle of hoops, or rise to a moving assemblage of textile choreography.

The difference in the transmutation of quantity into quality in the movement of the crinoline is quite alien to the fossil form of the ammonite.

(A sub-group is working on the thesis that this view needs to be corrected in the light of new research into the movement of the ammonite as a living form rather than as a fossilised being.)

(To be continued.)

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