Lezley George

Studio 12: Alternative Fashioned Modernities

Image: Lezley George

Studio brief

“Modernity is now everywhere... [it] continues to 'arrive and emerge' as always in opportunist fragments accompanied by utopic rhetorics, but no longer from the West alone...” (Gaonkar, Alternative Modernities, 1999: p.1)

Much is happening in the world today that foregrounds questions pertinent to our identities in a globalised world. Simultaneously, designers are using localness as a central theme to inspire and innovate new ways of thinking about who we are and what we as consumers want to say about ourselves.

In this dissertation studio we will look at how design can propose an alternative response to historical and conceptual categories that are grounded in our view today of globalisation and modernity – these may be related to fashion and textiles but will also consider fashion and textile design as existing in an interdisciplinary space that naturally lends itself to cross-fertilisation of ideas, methods and forms of presentation. In these seven weeks we will look at some of the theories that connect globalisation and identity and how individually and collectively we are responding to them by expressing forms of localness. These new “locals” may be geographically placed or place-less in as much as they co-exist in a interconnected world. We will explore various aspects that arise from thinking about the global-local axis – including self representation, cultural identity and how fashion operates within this.

The seminars aim to encourage you to develop your final dissertation project so that it examines multiple perspectives to analyse production, consumption or distribution of emerging “alternative modernities”. We will also look at different ways in which to carry out research in these areas with a focus on qualitative methodology that uses ethnography combined with visual, textual and material culture analysis.

Week 1-7

  • Week 1: Introduction – What are “alternative modernities”? What is globalisation – what is localisation? 
  • Week 2: What theories can we use? Seminar discussion.  
  • Week 3: How we craft identity through space, place and style: seminar discussion. 
  • Week 4: Visit TBC: designing modernities.
  • Week 5: What is ethnography? Examples and discussion on qualitative approaches for research projects. 
  • Week 6: Group discussion: Posing a research question and structuring your proposal for your dissertation project. 
  • Week 7: Individual tutorial:dissertation topic and title.

Selected reading list

  1. Apparadurai, Arjun (1996) Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  2. Aronczyk, M (2013) Branding the Nation: The Global Business of National Identity. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. 
  3. Bhaba, Homi (1994) The Location of Culture. London: Routledge.
  4. Gaonkar, Dilip Parameshwar ([1999], 2002) On Alternative Modernity. In D P Gaonkar (Ed) Alternative Modernities, p1- 18 Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
  5. Grabski, Joanna (2009) Making Fashion in the City: A Case Study of Tailors and Designers in Dakar, Senegal. In Fashion Theory vol.13: 2 p215-242: Berg Publishing.
  6. Hammersley, Martyn and Atkinson, Paul (2007) Ethnography: Principles in Practice. London: Routledge.
  7. Lewis, Reina (2013) Hijab on the shop floor: Muslims in fashion retail in Britain. In E Tarlo and A Moors (eds.) Islamic Fashion and Anti Fashion: New Perspectives from Europe and North America. (pp.181-197) London and New York: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.  
  8. Ong, Aihwa (2011) Introduction: Worlding cities, or the art of being global. In A Roy and A Ong, Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global. P1-26. Hoboken, NJ: Blackwall Publishing.
  9. Rantisi, NM (2011) The prospects and perils of creating a viable fashion identity. In L Skov and MR Melchoir, (eds.) Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body and Culture Vol 15: 2 (pp. 260-265) Oxford: Bloomsbury Publishing.
  10. Robins, K (1997) What in the world is going on. In P Du Gay (eds.) Production of Culture/Cultures of Production. (pp11-47) Milton Keynes: The Open University.


Tutor Lezley George

Dissertation Studios

Studio 1: Another India

Harriet McKay

Studio 1: Another India will examine, reflect upon and critique the historic use of "exotic" motifs in design.

Studio 2: Contemporary Ecology

Nabil Ahmed

In Studio 2 we will explore environmental topics through the lens of art, architecture, spatial practice, media and design disciplines.

Studio 3: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture and the Music Industry

Christina Paine

Studio 3: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture and the Music Industry is an exploration of race, gender, class and more in music.

Studio 4: Not allowed

Emma Davenport

Studio 4: What Not to Wear? will investigate the roles that dress and fashion play in our workplaces.

Studio 5: Imperfect Theories

Ektoras Arkomanis

Studio 5: Imperfect Theories allows you to critically examine any work that can be seen as theory or presents an interesting relationship with theory.

Studio 6: Curating as a Spatial Practice: From the Wunderkammer to Installation art

Nico de Oliveira

Studio 6: This dissertation studio is designed to help students who are interested in curating as a broad subject, as well as those who wish to contextualise their own practice within the scope of displaying art.

Studio 7: Souvenir

Dr Lesley Stevenson

Studio 7: This studio is concerned with those objects that are lent a particular enchantment because of their relationship with the past.

Studio 8: Post – card

Edwina Attlee

Studio 8 will look at one element of that system – the picture postcard – from a number of different perspectives.

Studio 9: ‘The Form of the Text’

Danielle Hewitt

Studio 9: Together we will explore the space of criticism; acknowledging our point of encounter with objects, places, sites and processes and the relationship between text, writer and reader.

Studio 10: Constellating

Sinead Evans

As creative practitioners we digest and produce images every day – as citizens of the digital age we consume between hundreds and thousands of images each day. This dissertation studio will slim down your daily diet to one image.

Studio 11: Science Fiction Futurity

Luke Jones

Speculative descriptions of the future reveal a magnified — or distorted — reflection of the fears and desires of the present.

Studio 12: Alternative Fashioned Modernities

Lezley George

Much is happening in the world today that foregrounds questions pertinent to our identities in a globalised world.

Studio 13: Desire, Trauma, History

Jonathan Whitehall

How does the relationship of memory to fantasy affect history? What are the links between desire, sexuality and trauma? How are these relationships played out or negotiated in visual and written practice? These questions will form the beginning of our enquiries into artworks, films and literature.

Studio 14: Design and Nature: Forms of an Entanglement

Gabriele Oropallo

We will look at how the idea of nature has been constructed over time and place, and study its impact on design practice in an age marked by the sustainability imperative.

Studio 15: Music, Technology and Ideas

Lewis Jones

Studio 15: Music, Technology and Ideas encourages you to explore how and why we make music, including its origin, relationship to technology and more.

Studio 16: Narrative and Storytelling

Jon Baldwin

Studio 16: Narrative and Storytelling will see you produce storygraphs, storyboards and various forms of narrative analysis in the seminars.

Studio 17: Knowing Audiences

Jeremy Collins

Studio 17: Knowing Audiences will encourage you to study an audience group using qualitative research methods in your investigations.

Studio 18: Time and the Image

David Howells

This workshop will address some perennial problems of writing in the field of visual culture.

Studio 19: Material in Motion

Heidi Yeo

Studio 19: This studio will explore a reading of objects focusing on the interplay between materials, the objects they form and their context.

Studio 20: The Liminal

Andrew Hewish

This Dissertation Studio examines instances of the liminal as they occur in critical theory and culture, and is open to any topic and students from all disciplines.

Studio 21: Reading the library (and nothing but the library)

Joseph Kohlmaier

This year, Studio 21 will stage an unusual experiment. It will move, unpack, catalogue, and perform readings from one private library; and make this library, without exception, the single resource for all the research and writing in the studio.

Studio 22: Meaningful work

Paul Harper

Studio 22: Meaningful work explores the value of making and the idea of craft as meaningful work.

Studio 23: A Common Thread

Gina Pierce

Studio 23: In A Common Thread, we unpick and examine the importance of textiles and how they underpin culture, industry, and global connections.

Cass Studios archive by year