Special Topics in History of Art: Fictions of Fashion in 19th Century France: Art, Literature, Theory
G-026 Tisch
MW 2:30-4:00pm
3 Credit Lecture
Meets with HISTART 489.004 & FRENCH 450 & 655

With the emergence in nineteenth-century France of a large middle-class and the increasing availability of mass-produced merchandise from around the world, displayed in new commercial emporia such as the department store, fashion became a wide-spread statement of modern identities and behaviours for both men and women. This course will examine the uses of fashion as a theme and a means of signification in the literary and visual culture of Paris, the self-declared capital of la mode. We will consider the theorization of fashion as the quintessential emblem of modernity in this period and later, in the work of twentieth century theorists such as Walter Benjamin and Roland Barthes. The subject of fashion will be studied in texts by Balzac, Baudelaire, Barbey d'Aurevilly, Zola, and Mallarmé. The artists to be studied include Manet, Monet, Morisot, Winterhalter, Tissot and fashion illustrators such as Constantin Guys. This interdisciplinary course is team-taught between History of Art and Romance Languages and Literatures. Texts will be read in English translation but students are encouraged to read in the original French if possible. The course will be taught in a large-group discussion format for advanced undergraduates; graduate students enrolled in the course will have extra meetings and coursework. A field trip to the major international loan exhibition Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is planned for a weekend during the Winter term. Estimated cost of materials, less than $50. History of Art distribution grid: D. 4