Studio 7: Fashioning culture: clothing and the shaping of identity

This studio aims to examine critically the links between fashion, clothing and identity. In particular, it will focus on approaches to studying clothing that look beyond the catwalk and consider dress as a lived experience, shaped by social class, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, and politics. In particular, it will consider how fashion is mediated by photography, cinema, advertising, style magazines and social media.

For the first five weeks, an hour will be given over to a tutor-led presentation where we will consider what skills are needed for the successful completion of a dissertation. Then we will discuss one or two texts, which you will have prepared in advance of the class, in order to highlight a particular issue in fashion history and theory. You will also begin working on ideas for your own dissertation, drawing on the readings and the research methods and methodologies that we will discuss in the workshops.

From the first week, you are encouraged to come to class with notes and ideas for dissertation topics, which we will consider at the end of each session and which you will eventually be required to present in poster form to the rest of the group.


Week 1
Tutor-led: Introduction to the studio: What is a dissertation? What is research?

Week 2
Tutor-led: Choosing a topic.
Student-led: Clothing and identity.

Week 3 
Tutor-led: Research skills.
Student-led: Oppositional style and subcultures.

Week 4
Tutor-led: Methodological approaches.
Student-led: Fashion and fetishism.

Week 5
Tutor-led: Referencing / plagiarism.
Student-led: The mediation of fashion i: fashion photography / cinema.

Week 6
V&A visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), but you are strongly encouraged to visit other museums and recommended exhibitions throughout the academic year. Please try to see the following exhibition on the fashion photographer Terence Donovan: Speed of Light, Photographers’ Gallery 15 July – 25 September.

Week 7:
Student-led: The mediation of fashion ii: style magazines / social media.

Brief reading

  • Ash, J. & Wilson, E (1993) Chic Thrills: A Fashion Reader. University of California Press
  • Barnard, M (2002)  Fashion as Communication. Routledge
  • Barnard, M (2007) Fashion Theory: A Reader. Routledge
  • Breward, C (1995)  The Culture of Fashion. Manchester University Press
  • Breward, C (2003) Fashion. Oxford University Press
  • Bruzzi, S and Church, PM (Eds.) (2000) Fashion Cultures: Theories, Explorations and Analysis. Routledge
  • Craik, J (1999) The Face of Fashion. Routledge
  • Craik, J (2009) Fashion: The Key Concepts. Berg
  • Eicher, J (1995) Dress and Ethnicity. Oxford: Berg
  • Mcneil, P and Karaminas, V (2009) The Men’s Fashion Reader. Berg
  • Potvin, J (2009) The Places and Spaces of Fashion, 1800-2007. Routledge
  • Purdy, DI (2004) The Rise of Fashion: A Reader. University of Minnesota Press
  • Riello, M and Mcneil, P (2010) The Fashion History Reader: Global Perspectives. Routledge
  • Steele, V (2013) A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk. Yale University Press


Dr Lesley Stevenson
Lesley has taught critical and contextual studies in a number of universities in the UK. In particular, she has tutored students to become successful independent learners in the completion of dissertations and theses at BA, MA and PhD levels. 

She has an MA in Art History and Philosophy from Glasgow University and a PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art and has written a number of books, articles and exhibition catalogues on visual and material cultures, photography and cultures of consumption. Currently, she is working on a book on still life and death.

Fashion mannequin holding a photo of a film star.


Tutor Dr Lesley Stevenson

Dissertation Studios