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UB Lecture to Examine Link Between Women, Shopping, Space

By Mara McGinnis

Release Date: March 31, 1998

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Visiting shops, buying, purchasing, browsing, comparing, looking for bargains, finding sales, inspecting goods. Ever wonder why these activities are practically second nature to most women and may even reduce stress and lift spirits?

The origins and associations of women and shopping spaces, which can be traced back to Victorian times, will be explored in a lecture at 5:30 p.m. on April 8 in Harriman Hall on the University at Buffalo South (Main Street) Campus.

Mona Domosh of Florida Atlantic University will discuss "A Feminine City: Women, Shopping and Space in 19th Century New York." The lecture, sponsored by the UB School of Architecture and Planning, will be free and open to the public.

Domosh will focus on the development of New York City's 19th-century consumer district, referred to as the "Ladies' Mile," and its relationship to Victorian notions of femininity and masculinity, whereby women were taught to value the home, family and religion while men were active in work, public life and politics.

She became interested in the subject when her research on the shaping of large American cities in the 19th century led her to question why the first retail areas looked different compared to other districts. She will argue that since women were assigned this Victorian set of values, the shopping spaces were constructed to conform to these qualities.

According to Domosh, women were the first class of consumers; therefore the actual spaces for their shopping appeared cultural, decorative, safe and well-organized to fit the role they played in 19th-century American society.

The author of "Invented Cities: The Creation of Landscape in Nineteenth Century New York and Boston," Domosh also co-wrote "The Human Mosaic: A Thematic Introduction to Cultural Geography."

Her research interests include urban historical geography, cultural geography, social theory and feminist theory.

Domosh holds bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Clark University.