Spring 2022

Fashion / Media / Modernity

Listed in: English, as ENGL-475  |  Film and Media Studies, as FAMS-431


Lise Shapiro Sanders (Section 01)


(Offered as ENGL 475 and FAMS 431) Fashion has long been associated with frivolity, ephemerality, and triviality. Yet trends in clothing and design are irrevocably linked to politics, technology, society, and cultural change–from hats to hemlines to heels, fashion can reveal the transformations of an era. How has fashion evolved in the modern age, and what is its relationship to literature, film, and other media forms? What can fashion teach us about our past, present, and future? This advanced seminar will delve into the interdisciplinary field of fashion studies to examine the vicissitudes of fashion from the nineteenth century onward, focusing on Britain, Europe, and the United States, with an eye toward the role of imperialism, Orientalism, and cultural appropriation in shaping fashion’s tangled histories. Students will study literary texts; film and television; print, visual, and digital media; and material culture. Potential case studies include the dandy, the New Woman, and the flapper; wartime fashions; subcultural style; the wedding gown; the sneaker; among other topics. Students will do independent research, culminating in a written research project and/or curated digital exhibit; keep a weekly reading/viewing journal recording their critical responses to the assigned texts; and facilitate discussion on a given topic. Students can expect to gain: a familiarity with key terms and approaches in fashion studies, media studies, and cultural studies; an ability to think and write critically about fashion and fashion media, in terms of aesthetics, historical development, and cultural context; confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays; and proficiency in various aspects of project-based work, including identifying a research topic, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

Requisite: At least one 200-level foundations course in English, Film & Media Studies, Art & the History of Art, History, Theater and Dance, and/or Sexuality, Women’s & Gender Studies. Upper-level coursework in one or more of these fields is strongly recommended. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: emphasis on written work, readings, independent research, oral presentations, discussion facilitation, group work, close textual analysis, visual analysis, revision, self-evaluation Students with documented disabilities who will require accommodations in this course should be in consultation with Accessibility Services and reach out to the faculty member as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations can be made in a timely manner.


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022