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Politics of Fashion

GWS 275
Various artists

Clothing is a medium for fashioning identities from commodities, and it is hardly surprising that political and social tensions are embodied in its fabrications. The politics of dress indicates inseparable links between cultures, aesthetics, and politics, as demonstrated in debates about Muslim practices of veiling, the role of clothing in colonialism’s "civilizing" mission, immigrant and "third world" sweatshop labor, fashion policing and subcultural style, and the fashion and modeling industries. Clearly manifest throughout these politics is the role of gender, race, nation, and sexuality, as relations of power and as critical factors for social life and creative imagination. This course requires weekly written reflections on the required readings; a written midterm; and a final project, which can be either a research paper or a creative project. The course also requires in-class participation (which will include pop quizzes, group discussion, and other exercises) and one individual or group presentation. The course thus provides students an opportunity to develop their critical skills in both oral and written form.