Scholarly Fashion


Layered Looks 

Fashion and Cultural Memory in 20th -21st centuries




MTW 3:30 - 5:40

OFFICE HOURS Thursday 2pm-3pm or by appointment 


Fashion is the epitome of our yearning for the new and yet it always repeats itself. What is at stake in these repetitions? This course explores fashion as a means of processing history and time, a vehicle both activating and producing cultural memory. Building on Diana Taylor’s idea of the archive and the repertoire, we will see how the history of fashion is just as much about novelty as it is about a negotiation between the present and the past and the performance of cultural memory. Starting from Coco Chanel’s project of styling the nation and the not-so-new Dior’s New Look we will move to contemporary reflections on the 60s and sartorial obsessions with retro and vintage in the age of Instagram. While the vogue has been deliberately constructed as a quintessentially French phenomenon, we will transit from Paris to New York, Nubia, and Delhi, making a few stops in post-Soviet Moscow and Tbilisi. Rather than a depository of styles, fashion will be approached as an arena for performance and reinvention of nationhood and gender, local memory and practices of international consumption. The class has a Digital Humanities component and will challenge you to present content on the publishing Internet platform Scalar. You will learn to annotate images and videos online, will write weekly blog posts, and will also have a choice of presenting your final paper in the form of a multimedia digital piece.

Course Objectives

After completing this course students will:

1. Have developed their ability to present independent and reasoned analysis of primary and secondary sources relevant to the study of fashion and cultural memory, both verbally and in writing, adopting appropriate academic conventions;

2. Be familiar and able to evaluate a variety of theoretical approaches to the study of fashion, as well as situate primary sources in a wider historical and cultural context;

3. Be able to present their work in the digital form and acquire skills of Internet publishing. 

In the beginning of the course, the students will set up an account with Scalar and familiarize themselves with the platform by submitting weekly blog posts using the platform. Towards the end of the course, they will be given a choice of either producing a traditional final paper on a topic related to the course or a project involving analysis and annotation of multimedia content published on Scalar.

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