Problems in Art of the Nineteenth-Century: Fashion and Costume in the Visual Culture of Nineteenth-Century Europe
The seminar explores representations of costume, fabric, and fashion in art and visual culture of the modern period. Readings range from the early modern through modern periods, focusing on the nineteenth century. Clothing is approached as an aspect of material culture that is directly linked to social behavior and its visual representation. The social, symbolic, and psychological aspects of clothing conveyed in pictures and other forms of imagery will be considered, along with clothing's relation to economic consumption. The period saw a shift from an early modern emphasis on visible, external signs of social identity to a modern emphasis on an internally-defined self, which tended to conceive of clothing as a false or variable identity. Methods of manufacturing clothing simultaneously shifted from tailor- to ready-made, while the gendered connotations of "fashion" also changed. Themes addressed in the course include the particular importance of fashion in staging representations of female subjects in works of fine art; the element of agency at work in the consumption, wearing, and representation of costume; the accessory as an early form of commodity consumption in the fashion realm; the coupling of art and industry during the period, as evidenced in links between the textile trade, fashion trade, fashion press, and fine art; and the role of historical and exotic costume in signifying cultural difference.
Field trip likely.
Estimated cost of materials: $100 or more