CRS318 Fashion in Focus: Discourses and Meanings (Fall, Spring)

Fashion has an image problem. It occupies a problematic and contradictory position within culture: everyone to a greater or lesser extent engages with it, yet it is culturally condemned as ‘feminine’, ‘vacuous’, ‘superficial’, and even ‘dangerous’.  The fashion industry is the biggest industrial employer in the world and one of the three biggest economic sectors, yet in contemporary culture, fashion is sidelined and rarely discussed in a mature manner that extends beyond the stylistic. Fashion lacks its own language and is all too often reduced to or equated with ‘shopping’. But this reduction is far from the truth.

This course will examine the different meanings and discourses of fashion and demonstrate how fashion is in fact so much more than what we see in adverts and shops and indeed carries an extensive set of meanings and has multiple functions in human life.

All human cultures engage in body adornment. This course departs from this anthropological fact to build a multi-faceted picture of the different discourses and meanings that together address the full complexity of the term ‘fashion.’

Fashion is both the central subject of the course and at the same time will function as a lens for examining wider socioeconomic tendencies, highlighting that far from being superficial, fashion is in fact “the most talkative of social facts” (Daniel Roche, 2000).

Department: Communications and Rhetorical Studies

Location: London

Semesters: Fall, Spring

Credits: 3