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Modernist Fashion, Literature and Theory

ENGL 259.401
also offered as: COML 140
TR 9-10:30am

Course Online: Synchronous Format

In this class we will study international modernism by focusing on the emergence of a concept of the "new," a term that is also often understood as the "new fashion." What is the “fashion of the new,” how is the concept linked with the material production of “fashion” itself? After having studied the political functions of fashion as an agent of control and distinction from the Middles Ages to the end of the 18th century, we will study the rise of modernism, whose specificity consists in being accompanied by a complex network of discourses on fashion elaborated by poets like Baudelaire and Mallarmé or by philosophers like Georg Simmel and Walter Benjamin. Not sticking to a pure chronological pattern, we will move back and forth in time so as to analyze today’s changing scene, with a view to identity the multiple emergences of the "new" in the context of the fashion industry. In our  cultural mapping of fashion, we will discuss Baudelaire and Mallarmé, read Aragon's Surrealist novel Paris Peasant. We watch and discuss a number of films and documentaries that foreground fashion. The collection Fashion Theory: A Reader will serve as a theoretical guide and a compendium.

fulfills requirements
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major