Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

John M. Clifton


English-speaking conservative Mennonites exercise a distinct set of dress practices that are not often understood by people outside the community. Advances in New Literacy Studies pave the way to understand their dress practices as a type of literacy. Multiple literacies work together to inform conservative Mennonite dress practices. One of these literacies is the reading and writing of religious texts. A second literacy is a form of heritage literacy where clothing functions as a multimodal text. Conservative Mennonites use their clothing to codify their Christian identity, gender roles and church affiliation. They intend their clothing to represent who they are to the people around them. A conservative Mennonite woman's head covering is a subversive, embodied text that corrects power imbalances they perceive between masculine and feminine. The results of viewing Mennonite dress practices through the lens of literacy show them to be a coherent sign system that passes between generations.