Quaker Studies


In the first part of this paper I explore the possibility of identifying a Quaker aesthetic through the concepts 'plain' and 'plaining'. I begin with an examination of the importance of 'the plain' as product and practice to seventeenth-century Friends and briefly outline its enduring importance to Quakers. Friends, however, were not the first group to adopt the plain style which is better understood when located in its broader historical context. For Quakers, the plain is ethic as well as aesthetic, partially grounding all Quaker testimonies. Given the well-documented aestheticization of contemporary life, I argue that the Quaker plain and plaining have a continuing relevance, representing a moral, aesthetic and religious critique of consumer culture, distinct from those which are economically and politically motivated.



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