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Modernism and the Theory of Fashion

ENGL 359.301
fulfills requirements:
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major

In this class we will study international modernism from 1860 to 1940 by focusing on the emergence of a new concept of the "new," also understood as "new fashion" or “fashion of the new.” The rise of modernism was accompanied by self-conscious discourses on fashion, first elaborated by Baudelaire and Mallarmé. We will follow the social uses of the "new" in the context of the fashion industry, and map the cultural history of "fashion" as developed by Walter Benjamin and Georg Simmel. We will read Aragon's groundbreaking Surrealist novel Paris Peasant, selected portions of Benjamin'sArcades Project and all of Fashion Theory: A Reader.

Assignments: one oral presentation and two papers (10 pages each).