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Jessica L. Burstein
ENGL 546
Seattle Campus

Topics in Twentieth-Century Literature

Class description

Title: Fashion and Modernism

"It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances." --Oscar Wilde.

It is arguable that to be modern is to be in, or a, fashion. Perhaps as a result, from Baudelaire to Woolf, modernists have been invested in fashion. "Fashion and Modernism" examines some aspects in the constellation of English and European sartorial culture circa the mid-nineteenth century through the 1930s, with a few dips into America, and accessories. "Fashion" in this context means both clothing and style, and while a major motif of the course is the consumption of female fashion, we will also explore the history of the dandy, theories of ornamentation, emergent forms of urbanism, spatiality, and embodiment. Topics will include shopping/the rise of the department store; anti-ornament and anti-fashion; the flâneur/flâneuse; fashion of the historical avant-garde, and literary and visual archival instances foregrounding the fashion industry. Readings will range from the literary, the contextual, the theoretical, and the sociological(ish).

"F&M" is a reading-intensive seminar. Students will be responsible for one class presentation and a final paper employing some archival historical material from the modernist era, for instance culling from a period Vogue. NOTE: Students are strongly urged to have taken at least one previous course in British, American, or European modernism. The methodology will be an historical one focused on the specified time period; this class does not deal with contemporary fashion. Prior to the first class, have (re)read Andreas Huyssen, "Mass Culture as Woman" from *After the Great Divide,* and make a dent in Zola's *Au Bonheur des dames* (The Ladies’ Paradise), in the Nelson translation. All readings will be in English.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Jessica L. Burstein
Date: 10/12/2012