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First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: La Mode: Fashioning Modernity

Semester and Year FA 2017
Course Number FIRST-UG107
Section 001
Instructor Charles Gelman
Days MW
Time 6:20 PM - 7:35 PM
Units 4
Level U


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


How has fashion contributed to shaping the social, visual, and libidinal environment in which we live and the ways in which we live in it? To what extent do changing fashions not only reflect but also factor in the formation and transformation of cultures? Students in this course will develop their understanding of and capacity to engage in interdisciplinary scholarship through the study of a tradition of writing on fashion that dates back to the early nineteenth century, and that encompasses journalism, aesthetics, sociology, psychoanalysis, political economy, and philosophy. Over the course of the semester students will be introduced to a wide range of authors, texts, intellectual traditions, and theoretical approaches to the study of fashion, as well as to contemporary issues bearing on the clothed body in both Western and non-Western contexts. In addition to encouraging students to think critically about the place and function of fashion in modern life, the course assignments aim help them to develop the ability to address complex questions with both clarity and substance, to craft well-constructed and compelling arguments, and to recognize and assess the different methods employed and types of claim advanced by scholars working in various disciplines. Readings will include texts by Honoré de Balzac, Roland Barthes, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Caroline Evans, Kennedy Fraser, Anne Hollander, Joan Wallach Scott, and Thorstein Veblen, among others.


All Syllabi

Course Type

First-Year Program: Interdisciplinary Seminars (FIRST-UG)