“It’s In the Syllabus.”

A woman's torso, she wears a white t-shirt reading, "It's in the syllabus."

Hey, want to see the readings (and the Spring 2011 course blog) for “The Politics of Fashion”? Check it out there, but comment back here, please. I’m not sure yet if I’m going to limit comments to the course blog to enrolled students, and myself — any thoughts?

I know I need to update my clips, but I cannot make myself watch The September Issue (2009, dir.RJ Culter). I already hate The Devil Wears Prada, and I can’t imagine wanting to watch another film about that awful magazine. I’m looking forward to screening Chris Rock’s Good Hair (2009); I need to watch Malls R Us (2009, dir. Helene Klodawsky) to see if any part of it relates to the course (I’m hoping it will go with Marianne Conroy’s “Discount Dreams”); and I would like to see Picture Me (2009, dirs. Ole Schell and Sara Ziff) though I deal very little (or at all) with that part of the industry (though doing it through a concept of labor would help). I hear that the “breakout star” of Bravo’s The Fashion Show this season is Calvin Tran, and that he does speak about how his refugee passage informs his relation to the work — perhaps a good pairing with Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu’s The Beautiful Generation? (Here’s the interview, and here’s our review!) I usually show Doo Ri Chung’s segments from Seamless (2005, dir. Douglas Keeve) with Tu’s work. What else is interesting or relevant? Suggestions?

It’s 5 a.m., and I clearly need to sleep lest I ramble on much more. So much love and thanks to Minh-Ha, by the way, for keeping up the good fight on the blog, our Facebook, and our Twitter, while I have been mostly AWOL for the last few months — whew!



15 responses to ““It’s In the Syllabus.”

  1. myra

    MIMI! i wish to take this class again!
    i was wondering if you were going to have anything about black dandys! i am fascinated by them and psyched to see them on the syllabus!
    also, i think it’s brilliant they have threadbared posts to read!
    one suggestion, maybe in the fashioning distinction/hierarchy week that cord jefferson piece from the awl about old money/white people clothes? i can’t think of the title off hand…

    • I wish you would take it again! Black dandys cannot but be on the syllabus — one of the assignments will probably be watching and responding to The Importance of Being Elegant (which is on Vimeo!).

  2. Looks awesome. I think it’s probably smart to limit comments on that site, especially since you link back to this one so that those truly burdened with something to say can find an outlet to do so.

  3. I didn’t like The September Issue. I kept waiting for Anna Wintour to say something interesting but she never did. I came away with the feeling that she didn’t even want to be in the film.

    • Sara

      The one thing I found mildly interesting (emphasis on mildly) in The September Issue was that Anna Wintour seemed to be a bit defensive about her line of work vis-a-vis her perception that her family members find it frivolous.

  4. Paul

    Just so ya know, the link for the Grey Sweatsuit Revolution is a deadlink, it should be http://www.thegreysweatsuitrevolution.com/.

    On a related note, I hadn’t read either of the Week 2 entries on the president’s jeans. They’re both angering in completely different ways.

    Also, one thing I am wondering is that I see you mention in the course description is that “[c]learly manifest throughout these politics is the role… sexuality” I’m not clearly seeing it in the syllabus but this may be largely due to my lack of knowledge in the academic discourse on fashion, grad school effectively neutering my reading on topics not my dissertation.
    Where would you identify this being housed? Just wondering because I, as a queer person, find it interesting, but in the ways that queer bodies are policed, both internally and externally via clothing (“You don’t look like a lesbian” or, as I experienced recently while standing in a line that someone was directed to, “Behind the guy with the purse?”). I think you could even incorporate things like the “Dykes and Their Hair” also, even though it’s not clothing, it’s still a statement of style. But, maybe I’m just looking too much for a paper that is potentially “on me.” 🙂

    Otherwise, I think the class sounds both fascinating and fun!

    • Thanks, Paul, for checking that link! And yes, the Obama “dad jeans” pieces are crazy-making!

      In this course, I bring most of my queer materials in through lecture and assignments — in the first week, I talk about Joon Lee’s entry on lipstickeaters on the “boyfriend” jean with the “dad” and “mom” jeans, for instance. (Though I only just now remembered to add that link, oops!) I’m also planning on making “Dykes and Their Hair” part of an assignment. I should probably check my own damn archives for other readings too (like some of the pieces linked here!

      A lot of the readings do deal with sexuality, though not necessarily or explicitly queer sexuality. And of course, some pieces like Monica Miller’s Slaves to Fashion and Kobena Mercer’s “Black Hair/Style Politics” bring in queer studies through indices of race. My own research in clothing and beauty focuses on race, coloniality, and transnationality, and the readings reflect this in the syllabus; sexuality is always a part of these things, but again, not necessarily “visibly” queer as such.

      • Paul

        Immediately after I posted, my mind filled with the the myriad ways gender/sexuality/fashion work simultaneously and would most certainly be evident in your readings, beyond just queer sexuality. My own biases run amok when I think 0f my comments, apparently!
        Also, thank you for referencing again the queer fashion and style blogs. I remember grinning from ear to ear and then I promptly forgot to actually go through those.
        Other than that, I wish I could sit in on this class. Alas, I’ll return to my quarter, teaching students how to use technological resources to excel in their major. Spoiler alert: fashion never gets mentioned.

      • I’m not sure what it says about me that I’ll probably go through the things on that syllabus that I”m not already familiar with and turn it into, you know, personal reading, like, for fun?


  5. Virginia Postrel’s The Substance of Stylemaybe?

    Compelling syllabus. Wish I could take this class.

  6. Good Hair is great – i think you’ll really like it’s critical perspective on race and ‘normative’ ideals of beauty. i think you’ll also be surprised by the nuanced portrait of Vogue that is The September Issue. it IS continuing the Devil Wears Prada idea on the surface, but the really interesting story is the relationship between Anna and Grace Coddington. i thought it was a beautifully made docu-film. let me know what you think if you see it!

  7. jen

    Ooooh looks great Mimi!
    Wish I could take this course!
    I love the idea of a course blog, required sites to visit, and mixing types of instructional materials and discourses. For difficult course material, the integration of internet material in the form of blogs and websites help keep it accessible and relevant (speaking as a student here). I also like the idea of keeping the comments on the course blog limited to students so they can comfortably comment/engage/discuss without fear of internet troll persecution!

    Some of my favorite reads you may already be familiar with, but thought I should mention anyways
    on the politics of acquisition/newness/divestment:
    -the introduction in “Second-hand Cultures” By Nicky Gregson and Louise Crewe 2003

    on the production/imperialism side
    -Alejandro Lugo’s 2008 “Fragmented Lives Assembled Parts: Culture, Capitalism, and Conquest at the U.S.-Mexico Border
    -Andrew Ross’ 2009 “Nice Work If You Can Get It”

    and, lastly,
    the short and sweet experimental film “Nice Coloured Girls” by Tracey Moffatt 1987
    its only 16 min, brilliant, and explores aboriginal identity, heritage, beauty, and legacies of ‘first encounters’

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