‘What in all the material world is so light, so fleeting, and so volatile as Fashion. It is like the froth, which bubbling on the surface of the stream, is for ever changing its shape by insensible gradations.’ General Advertiser, August 20, 1785
This studio examines the intersections and relationships between objects and their visual and discursive representations through the lens of the history of fashion and dress. It locates fashion, or fashionable dress, in the conversations about it, the images portraying it, and the artefacts left in its wake. Marrying material, archival and visual approaches, it looks to the relationships between sartorial culture and its discursive and visual representations. It explores what constitutes material and sartorial culture and how those objects and artefacts relate, influence, and are influenced by contemporary culture, politics, class, gender, race and society. It approaches the concepts of fashion and dress as cultural currency that can be read and unpacked within an interrelated network of forms, iconographies and texts.
In particular, this studio considers the dialogues between fashionable dress and print culture. Of the multiple revolutions fought at the end of the eighteenth century, the ‘revolution’ on paper and in the press is at the heart of this work. Fashion circulated within graphic satire as a mode of cultural currency, seeping across society like spilt ink across a page. Through the relationship of object and image, this studio will examine the themes of dissemination, temporality, immaterial culture, satirical representation, politics and historicism within the social and cultural discourses of eighteenth-century society, juxtaposing how those dialogues of the past intersect with the present.
- Prown, Jules. “Mind in Matter: An Introduction to Material Culture Theory and Method.” Winterthur Portfolio 17, no. 1 (Spring 1982): 1-19.
- Gerristen, Anne and Giorgio Riello (eds.). Writing Material Culture History, London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014.
- Dyer, Serena, Jade Halbert and Sophie Littlewood (eds.). Disseminating Dress: Britain’s Fashion Networks, 1660-1970, London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2022.
- Hellman, Mimi. “Furniture, Sociability, and the Work of Leisure in Eighteenth Century France.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 32, no. 4 (1999): 417- 434.
- McNeil, Peter. “‘Beauty in Search of Knowledge’: Eighteenth-Century Fashion and the World of Print.” In Fashioning the Early Modern, edited by Evelyn Welch, 223-254. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.
- Styles, John. “Fashion and Innovation in Early Modern Europe.” In Fashioning the Early Modern, edited by Evelyn Welch, 33-56. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.
- van Horn, Jennifer. The Power of Objects in Eighteenth-Century British America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017.
- Wigston Smith, Chloe. “Fast Fashion: Style, Text, and Image in Late Eighteenth-Century Women’s Periodicals.” In Women’s Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain, 1690-1820s: The Long Eighteenth Century, edited by Jennie Batchelor and Manushag N. Powell, 440-457. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 2018.
- Wrigley, Richard. “The Formation and Currency of a Vestimentary Stereotype: The Sans-culotte in Revolutionary France.” In Fashioning the Body Politic: Dress, Gender, Citizenship, edited by Wendy Parkins, 19-48. Oxford: Berg, 2002.
- Yonan, Michael. “Toward a Fusion of Art History and Material Culture Studies.” West 86th 18, no. 2 (Fall-Winter 2011): 232-248.
Keywords: Material culture, Dress and fashion history, Print culture, Temporality , Immaterial culture, Satire, Historicism, Dissemination
Dissertation Studios 2022–23
Studio 01: The Pensive Image
Do images in the information age displace texts and become the main vehicle for expressing thought? How do images communicate? What are they are saying? Can images write histories?
Studio 02: Sport and Aesthetics
Dissertation Studio 02 will examine the concept of aesthetics as applied within that most everyday activity: sport.
Studio 03: The Bone Pile. Archive and Myth as Methodology
Starting with the archive as a ‘commons of imagination,’ Studio 03 is testing the bonds between the personal and the collective, the interconnection of heterogeneous histories, archival temporalities and deep places of myth and storytelling.
Studio 04: Public Protest – Spaces of negotiation
How do we shape the city? How do we claim, occupy and inform spaces as people who live, work and play? All places have a history of negotiation over territory and its use – which helps to bring them into their current form. Understanding this legacy through acts of dissent and protest can better uniform us about the places that we inhabit.
Studio 05: “If I stay silent nothing will change:” Identity, Politics, Social Change and Creative Culture(s)
This cross-disciplinary studio considers how power, culture, politics, identity, representation, activism, social media and mass culture theory intersect with a range of arts practices, including photography, architecture, design and fine art, film studies, fashion and music, sound, pop art and theatre.
Studio 06: Thinking with Ruins
Thinking With Ruins begins with the idea that to think about ruination allows us to approach subjects that are of interest materially, aesthetically and politically and it allows us to work across scales – from dust to debris to object to landscape.
Studio 07: Feminist Approaches
In this studio you will be invited to take a feminist approach to your dissertation and its topic, whatever that topic might be.
Studio 08: Fashioning the African Diaspora
Elli Michaela Young
Exploring the fashioning of the African diaspora and with a particular focus on the Caribbean Island of Jamaica, this studio aims to think through how fashion and dress is used to grapple with ideas of self.
Studio 09: Sartorial Culture
This studio examines the intersections and relationships between objects and their visual and discursive representations through the lens of the history of fashion and dress. It locates fashion, or fashionable dress, in the conversations about it, the images portraying it, and the artefacts left in its wake.
Studio 10: “Everywhere we remain unfree and chained to technology”
Studio 10 questions the role of technology in our lives and investigates the environmental ethics concerning how we relate to, and operate within the world and each other.
Studio 11: The Hammer without a Master
Studio 11 explores the idea that we think, remember and decide ‘in the world,’ rather than in our heads, that we are connected in unexpected ways and that this connection may be a key to unravelling some of the paradoxes of modern life and culture.
Studio 12: The Voice of Things
This studio will offer a challenge to the idea that objects are unruly things and need to be brought to heel by labelling, categorising, taxonomising. Instead, it offers an invitation to give voice to the mute and invisible, by listening to objects and treating them as allies.
Studio 13: Suck it up
This studio takes a sideways looks at the intersection of youth culture and late capitalism considering the impacts and influences of desire, the cartoon, consumerism and cuteness in shaping our lived contemporary experience.
Studio 14: Futures Past and Present
Cultural history, from high art to kitsch, is littered with visions of the future; some inspiring, some ridiculous, almost all of them wrong.
Studio 15: A River with Standing
What happens when a river is conceived as a living entity instead of the prevailing perspective of human sovereignty over nature? What political impact may this unprecedented legal status have on the ecological crisis? What do Indigenous cosmologies contribute to current posthuman philosophical debates?
Studio 16: “I can’t see the wood for the trees:” Ecology as Methodology
This studio aims to provoke discussion about the ’reality’ and the ‘myth’ of ecology: the ease with which one can theorise about it, and at the same time the persistent challenges of enacting it as an everyday lived condition of human (and more-than-human) existence.
Studio 17: The Practice of Space – Writing Atmospheres in Art and Architecture
Nico de Oliveira
Dissertation Studio 06 looks at space as practice, since each location is a mutable entity framed as a moment in time, populated by individuals and shaped by their actions as artists, musicians, curators, designers, architects, writers and spectators.
Studio 18: The Poetics of Making
This studio will consider the value of making in itself, independent of the product or outcome, exploring the idea of craft as meaningful work.
Studio 19: The Erotics of Infrastructure
Studio 19 questions how our body and subjectivity is formed through our encounters with infrastructure. We will explore what constitutes contemporary infrastructure, such as the digital sphere, financial products and how these may impact the formation of our subjectivity and social organisation.
Studio 20: A History of Efficiency
There is nothing inevitable about the way we organise our societies. Changing the harmful structures of economic efficiency, which are making the planet uninhabitable, is up to us. This studio is for students who are interested in exploring any aspect of the climate emergency.