Submitted by Paola Zamperini (inactive) on Monday, 10/17/2011, at 5:46 PM


Webster 220

M W 12,30-1,50

This course will focus on both the historical and cultural development of fashion, clothing and consumption in East Asia, with a special focus on China and Japan. Using a variety of sources, from fiction to art, from legal codes to advertisements, we will study both actual garments created and worn in society throughout history, as well as the ways in which they inform the social characterization of class, ethnicity, nationality, and gender attributed to fashion. Among the topics we will analyze in this sense will be hair-style, foot-binding and, in a deeper sense, bodily practices that inform most fashion-related discourses in East Asia. We will also think through the issue of fashion consumption as an often-contested site of modernity, especially in relationship to the issue of globalization and world-market. Thus we will also include a discussion of international fashion designers, along with analysis of phenomena such as sweat-shops.

Limited to 20 students.


Attendance and participation

I expect you to have completed the reading assignments before coming to class. Attendance and class participation are essential. The course will combine lecture and discussion and part of the final grade will be based on your participation, which involves presence, preparation of readings, and contributions towards classroom discussion. Late arrivals will be noted - three late arrivals count as one absence. You are allowed two absences, absences above and beyond that need to be explained in order to avoid an impact on the grade.



Papers, deadlines and assignments


a) Discussion teams.

Depending on the size of the class, you will be divided in small groups (3-4 persons maximum) and assigned a date and a topic for which you will be the discussion leaders, and will be responsible for structuring and leading the conversation on the material for the date assigned. Where possible, you will also be expected to find new and interesting material related to the issue/s under study.


b) Screening journal.

The screening journal will consist of entries you will make for each movie/documentary assigned. Entries need not be long and elaborate, as long as they convey your thoughts and ideas. These entries can serve as a place to respond to class discussion and reading assignments, as well as to express any ideas, thoughts or feelings prompted by the movie.  I will read the journal regularly to respond and as much as possible incorporate your ideas and reactions. The grade on journal entries is indicative of the effort you put in the class, not of the quality of your comments and insights:  missed entries will negatively affect your grade, while entries that consistently reflect a lot of thought and engagement will boost your grade. Journal entries are due by class time on the day in which the movie assigned will be discussed (almost all screenings are meant to be done during your weekend—but this is at your discretion—), in hard copy.


c) Assignments.

Various assignments, such as creating your own pillow book, keeping a clothing journal, will be given throughout the semester. Assignments will be emailed to you, along with due dates and precise guidelines, or handed out in class. They will also be regularly posted on the course website.


d) Final project.

You will be expected to submit a project by the end of the semester. The project should be original, and respond a major theme or issue in the course.  It could be collaborative (which of course will have an impact on the length of the project) and you will need to give a presentation in class about your work in progress before the end of the semester. There will be NO EXTENSIONS and your project will be marked down 10 % for each day it is late. Your final project will be due by 12/21 at noon, in hard copy, in my office.


Please note that this syllabus is a living organism and thus may evolve and change; this means that additional assignments, including movie screenings, may be added to the schedule. Check the course site for updates and announcements.


The final grade will be based on the following criteria: attendance and participation, 50%; essays and assignments, 50%.



Office Hours

W 3 to 5 and by appointment

106 Webster


Tel.: 413-5424483

 You are welcome and (really) encouraged to come and speak with me during office hours. This is important time to discuss more extensively the texts we are studying, the ideas we are exploring, or anything else related to the class.  I strongly urge you to talk with me about difficulties you may experience with course related material and to make suggestions, so that we can all benefit from each other’s insights and comments. 


Required texts and course readers

(All texts are available at Amherst Books; they are also on reserve at Frost)

Please use only these editions, as all page numbers in your syllabus refers to them.


THE FASHION READER, Second edition 9781847885890 2011

Wu Juanjuan   CHINESE FASHION: FROM MAO TO NOW (DRESS, BODY, CULTURE)   1845207793   2009  


Christine Tsui   CHINA FASHION: CONVERSATIONS WITH DESIGNERS   1845205154   2010  


Toby Slade   JAPANESE FASHION: A CULTURAL HISTORY   1847882528   2010  


Laura Miller   BEAUTY UP   0520245091   2006  


Bonnie Adrian   FRAMING THE BRIDE   0520238346   2003  


Book to order later (details will be given in class):

Kyoichi Tsuzuki    HAPPY VICTIMS 4861521688   2008  





All other readings assigned for the course are available on e-reserve, through your Amherst portal.



With the exceptions noted below in your syllabus, all movies will be available for your viewing pleasure as streaming videos that you can access from any computer connected to the Amherst-network via Ethernet cable. Please refer to this link for more information on how to access streaming videos:

Class discussion will often center on the movies, so all viewings are compulsory. Additional movie screenings may be added.


Go Lala Go!

The September Issue


Winter Sonata

Chinese footbinding. The vanishing lotus

China Blue

Kamikaze girls

Western eyes

Good for Her: A documentary about plastic surgery in Korea

Never Perfect

The Shoe Fairy

Two Hundred Pounds Beauty

Beauty in China


Suggested movies:

These movies are on reserve in the Frost Library for your viewing pleasure, to complement some of the issues we will discuss in class throughout the semester.



Bounce ko gals

Dream Girls

Eat the Kimono

Flowers of Shanghai

Ghost in the Shell, I and II

In the Mood For Love

Life and debt

Love and Pop

M. Butterfly

Mao’s New Suit

Mardi Gras

Memoirs of a Geisha

My Geisha

Notebook on Cities and Clothes

Paradise Kiss

Paris Is Burning


Shinjuku Boys

The Curse of the Golden Flower

The Great Happiness Space

The World of Suzie Wong

The Worlds of Mei Lanfang


Toni Takitani


Wu Ji (The Promise)





Schedule and reading assignments


Week 1


9/7       The Real Me. Or: What’s Up with Clothes?

Introduction to the course.


Screening: Seamless, streaming

Week 2           


9/12 Fabrications

Chen, Tina, and Zamperini, Paola, Introduction to Fabrications, positions: east asia cultures critique 11.2 (2003)

Assignment # 1 due



9/14 Fashionology. An Introduction to Fashion Studies.

            Readings: Part II, Fashion Theory, 117-163, in The Fashion Reader, required text.


Week 3


9/ 19    Re-Orienting Fashion.

Readings: Sandra Niessen, “Afterword: Re-Orienting Fashion,” 243-266; Carla Jones and Ann Marie Leshkowich, “Introduction. The Globalization of Asian Dress”, 1-43, in Re-Orienting Fashion. The Globalization of Asian Dress, electronic reserve.


9/21     The Body Invisible…

Readings: Shigehisa Kuriyama, “The Imagination of the Body and the History of Embodied Experience: The Case of Chinese Views of the Viscera,” in The Imagination of the Body and the History of Bodily Experience, 17-29, e-reserve.



Week 4 


9/26 And The Body Visible…


Satsuki Kawano, “Japanese Bodies and Western Ways of Seeing in the Late Nineteenth Century”, in Dirt, Undress and Difference, 149-167, e-reserve; Laura Miller, “Body Fashion and Beauty Etiquette,” in Beauty Up, 100-124; Slade, Japanese Fashion, 29-49.



9/28 From Head to Toe: Hair That Matters….

Weikun Cheng,  “Politics of the Queue: Agitation and Resistance in the beginning and End of Qing China,” 123-142, in Hair. Its Power and Meaning in Asian Cultures, e-reserve; Anne Allison, “Cutting the Fringes: Pubic Hair at the Margins of Japanese Censorship Laws,” in Hair. Its Power and Meaning in Asian Cultures, 195-217, e-reserve.


Screening, Chinese footbinding. The vanishing lotus, streaming



Week 5

10/3…Foot Lockers…

Readings: Dorothy Ko, “The Body as Attire. The Shifting Meanings of Foot-binding in Seventeenth-Century China,” Journal of Women's History Volume 8, Number 4,



10/ 5…and Changing Clothes.

Readings: Eileen Chang, A Chronicle of Changing Clothes, in positions: east asia cultures critique 11.2 (2003)

Eileen Chang, Lust and Caution, 3-13, e-reserve.



Week 6



10/12 Kimono Blues: Fashioning Modernity.

Readings: Slade, Japanese Fashion, 49-77, and 126-132; Lisa Dalby, Kimono, 59-107, e-reserve; Wearing Propaganda. Textiles on the Home Front in Japan, Britain, and the United States, 157-203, e-reserve; Kelly Foreman, “Bad girls confined: Okuni, Geisha, and the negotiation of female performance space,” in Bad girls of Japan, e-book.


Screening: Beauty in China, streaming


Week 7 To Make Her (and Him) the Prettiest 1

This week will mark the beginning of our in-class presentations. You will be divided in small groups and for each of the following four class meetings, depending on class size, your group will be responsible for leading discussion on the day chosen. A sign-up sheet will be handed out in week 5.


10/ 17  Fabricating Beauy in China  …

In class discussion of the documentary Beauty in China

Readings; Susan Brownell, “Making Dream Bodies in China”, in China Urban, 132-142; Eva Kit Wah Man, “Female Bodily Aesthetics, Politics, and Feminine Ideals of Beauty in China,” 169-196, in Beauty Matters, e-reserve.

Mid-term summary


110/19     … in Japan…
Group discussion leaders: Jacquelyn Runholt, Fengsheng Zhu, Ali Rich
Readings Laura Miller, Beauty Up, Chapters 2 and 3, 40-99, Chapter 5, 125-158.
Assignment: Watch the first episode of and of Absolute Boyfriend

Week 8 To Make Her (and Him) the Prettiest 2

10/ 24 FACE/OFF. Making Up Class in China and Japan…
Group discussion leaders: Nikki Takemori, Michelle Park, Ayano Takami
Readings: Ashikari, Mikiko. (2003). “Urban Middle-Class Japanese Women and their White Faces:  Gender, Ideology, and Representation”. Ethos, 31: 3-37; Wagatsuma, Hiroshi. (1967). “The Social Perception of Skin Color in Japan”, Daedalus, 96: 407- 443,
; “Gendered Development of Consumer Culture in China” and Gary Xu and Susan Feiner, “Meinu Jingji/China’s Beauty Economy: Buying Looks, Shifting Value,” in Changing Place in Gender, China and The World Trade Order, Routledge, 2009, e-reserve.

Recommended reading: Martin, Phillip. “Why White Skin is all the rage in Asia”. Globalpost. 25 Nov. 2009;
Perry Johansson, “White Skin, Large Breasts. Chinese Beauty Product Advertising as Cultural Discourse”, e-reserve.

10/26 Class canceled due to international conference!!!

Screenings: Good for Her, Never Perfect, and Western Eyes, Two Hundred Pounds Beauty, streaming

Week 9 Reframings. Regional and Transnational Flows 1

10/31 Pioneer Valley Fashion victims
Informed by our conversations so far, students will spend this class session on the streets of Amherst, Northampton interviewing passers-by about where they have bought their clothes and asking them about how much they know about the origins and the manufacture of their clothes. Details to follow.
Assignment due by 10/31 at midnight.

11/2 and Beyond!
Group discussion leaders: Olivia Ouyang, Laura Summers, Shayonna Cato
In class discussion of 200 hundred Pound Beauty, Good for Her, Never Perfect, and Western Eyes

11/4 Outline and tentative bibliography due for final projects, including research papers. Please submit them through our CSM’ Dropobox.

Week 10 Regional and Transnational Flows 2

    11/7    Wedding Bells1 and 2: The Context of Looking.
Group discussion leaders: Bridget Keller, Cindy Li, Lauren Slutsky
Readings: Framing the Bride, required text, 1-246.

11/9 The Korean New Wave. In class discussion of the first episode of Winter Sonata
Group discussion leaders: Kristen Lee, Chelsea Tejada, Lydia Trottman
Screening: Winter Sonata, episode 1 at least, streaming
Readings : Angel Lin and Avin Tong, “Re-Imagining a Cosmopolitan ‘Asian Us’: Korean Media Flows and Imaginaries of Asian Modern Femininities,” in East Asian Pop Culture. Analysing the Korean Wave, 91-125, e-reserve.

Week 11 Regional and Transnational Flows 3
11/14 : Hana yori dango in Japan, Taiwan and Korea
Group discussion leaders: Katrin Marquez, Emily Fan, Louise To
In class discussion of the Taiwanese, Japanese and Korean episodes of Boys over Flowers
Screening: Watch at least the first episode of the Japanese Anime series Hana Yori dango and of its TV version
And then watch the first episode of the Taiwanese version of Hana Yori Dango, Meteor Garden 1
And the first episode of its Korean counterpart

11/16 Branded!
Group discussion leaders: Nora, Madeleine, Ashely
Readings: Gretchen Jones, “Bad Girls Like to Read and Watch”, in Bad Girls of Japan, e-book.; AND at least the first two episodes of

Screenings: Kamikaze Girls, streaming, to be discussed on 11/28, and China Blue, streaming, to be discussed on 11/30, after the break. The screening entries for these documentaries will be due on the respective days in which they will be discussed.

Week 12
November 19, 2011-November 27: Thanksgiving Break.

Week 13 The Bondage of Fashion
11/28 Style Deficit Disorder
Group discussion leaders: Jiemin, Sophie Jasinski, Annick Breat-Kearny
Readings: “Branded: Bad Girls Go Shopping”, in Bad Girls of Japan, edited by Laura Miller and Jan Bardsley, e-book; 63. Japanese Street Fashion, in Fashion Reader, 467; Japanese Streets; Stylites in Beijing

11/30 Dangerous designs
Readings: Part VIII, The Politics of Fashion, in Fashion Reader, 302-332;
Part XIV, Fashion and the Global Economics, in Fashion Reader, 529-569.

Screening: Go, Lala, Go!, streaming. Screening journal will be due on 12/5

Week 14 From Mao to Now…

12/5     Writing 21st Chinese Fashion
Readings: Chinese Fashion. From Mao to Now, required text for the course

12/7      Chinese Designers
Readings: China Fashion. Conversations with Chinese Designers, required text for the course

Screenings: Notebook on Cities and Clothes, AND The September Issue, streaming. Screening journal entries are due on 12/12, by class time

Week 15 Glocalizing Fashion

12/12 The Future of Glocal Fashion in Media, Theory…
Readings: Fashion Reader, 573-655.

12/14     Stepping Out to the Mead. Asian Fashion at the Amherst College Museum
Details to follow

12/21 Final projects due

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