Fashion and Race

Fall 2017, Washington University in St. Louis

Is the fashion industry racist?  This course unpacks this contemporary inquiry by decentralizing fashion history to take a critical look at how racial identities are formed and performed, how historical stereotypes are perpetuated, and how theories of representation can be situated within the system of fashion. Students will use theoretical texts on race and representation to read contemporary media surrounding fashion and race (editorials, articles, social media), as well as gain an introduction to recently published research by scholars engaging fashion and race. Not only will students walk away with a richer understanding of how to critically think through race in fashion, but also how doing so gives us a new approach to think through race within a larger system. 

 

"Black is Beautiful": Race and Representation in American Fashion

Fall 2017, Washington University in St. Louis

This course will introduce students to using fashion as a lens to unpack race and representation in popular culture. Each week’s theme – Fashioning the Black Body, Slavery and Clothing, Clothing and Black Freedom Struggles, Fashion and Jazz and Hip Hop, Black Grooming and Beauty for the Masses and more – intersects with discourses surrounding gender and sexuality, performance, sociology, musicology and more challenging students to rethink how we see and discuss the black body in the mainstream.  Using primary sources and texts on fashion theory, representation and African American history, this course explores these inquiries into how fashion shapes race and how African Americans have used fashion as a site for reclamation in an effort to subvert tropes and establish agency.

 

Fashion History and Research Methods

Spring 2018, Washington University in St. Louis

This academic course studies cultural and social influences to understand how they shape the evolution of fashion and are expressed in clothing at various junctures in 20th and 21st century history. 

Students explore fashion history through the course’s themes on fashion and the body, fashion and gender & sexuality, fashion and race, fashion and art, fashion and sustainability and fashion and globalization. Students will be introduced to key concepts, theories and arguments and be able to situate them in fashion history that will be surveyed in class. They will also be able to identify how course themes intersect, and identify how such intersections have caused both limitations and expansions of fashion practice over time.

Students will also learn key research methods including Image and Textual Analysis, Materiality, Ethnography and Interviewing. Students will be introduced to scholarship that engages such research methods and examine how they can be applied to understanding some of the course’s sociocultural themes explored through history.


GUEST LECTURES

Fashion and Race

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I'm A Slave to It: Kanye West versus the Fashion Industry

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