Spring 2015 / 4:55-6:10pm / 7E12 LL23
Prof. Laura Portwood-Stacer, PhD

Prof’s Email: lps2@nyu.edu / Twitter: @lportwoodstacer
Office: 239 Greene St, 7th Floor
Office Hours: TBA
Course Website: fashpow2015.wordpress.com
Class Pinterest: pinterest.com/fashpow2015

Course Description
In this course we will examine fashion as an important component of culture, and come to understand the role of fashion in constructing and perpetuating relations of power at the societal level. Our readings and discussions will span historical periods, geographic locations, subcultural groups, and identity categories such as gender, ethnicity, class, and sexuality. We will draw on the theories and methods of cultural studies, urban sociology, critical race theory, feminist theory, performance theory, queer theory, and political economic analysis. Throughout our study of fashion and power, we will trace six keywords or central concepts: Representation, Identity, Discipline, Resistance, Appropriation, and Transformation. Students will have the opportunity to trace these concepts through readings, discussions, written assignments, visual image curation, and in-class group activities.

Course Objectives
Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:
-Define fashion as a component of culture and carrier of meaning
-Recognize the power relations embodied and expressed in fashion phenomena
-Identify various methodological approaches to the study of fashion, power, and culture
-Explain, through visual imagery and writing, the relationship between fashion and power
-Critically analyze fashion’s role in social power relationships
-Synthesize critical studies of fashion and identify key themes in fashion theory and critique
-Suggest new analytical lenses through which fashion and power might be understood
-Identify and cultivate personal and professional areas of interest in fashion

Required Texts
Dick Hebdige’s Subculture: The Meaning of Style
Other readings are available to download from the Schedule + Downloads page.

Grade Calculation

Attendance 25 points 5% of final grade
Participation 50 points 10% of final grade
Pinterest 75 points 15% of final grade
Event Review 125 points 25% of final grade
Keyword Curation 200 points 40% of final grade
Final Exam 25 points 5% of final grade

Each day you are in class for the full duration of the period, you will earn 1 attendance point. This means you can miss 3 class periods and still get the full 25 points. This 3-class allowance is to cover all types of absences – I won’t distinguish between “excused”/”unexcused” when calculating your attendance grade. If you have an exceptional circumstance (i.e. a severe, long-term illness) that will keep you out of class for more than 3 periods, please arrange to meet with me so that we can work together to ensure your successful performance in the class.

Your participation will be assessed based on your active engagement in class discussions as well as your completion of in-class activities throughout the semester. If you miss an in-class activity and would still like to receive credit for it, it is your responsibility to arrange a makeup before the following class period.

I have created a collective Pinterest account to which everyone can contribute (username: fashpow2015). You must post 25 credit-earning pins over the course of the semester (this works out to about 1 per class period). In order to earn credit, each pin must meet ALL the following criteria:

  • Image content is novel – something similar has not already been posted by a classmate
  • Image is accompanied by a caption that explains the content of the image and its relevance to the assigned readings and concept(s) therein
  • Caption demonstrates thorough engagement with the concepts from the day’s readings, including author names and page number references
  • Explanation meaningfully incorporates at least one of the course keywords
  • Pin must be posted by 4pm on the relevant class day
  • Caption must include your initials or other identifier

Event Review
You will attend an off-campus event of your choosing and create a blog post (including images) in which you connect what you observed with the concepts covered in the course so far. See the Assignments page for more information.

Keyword Curation
You will create a blog post in which you curate a themed collection (at least 5 images) that illuminates the meaning of one of the course keywords. To supplement your image collection, you will provide a written explanation of the keyword concept, drawing on assigned readings where appropriate. Your collection should not only be guided by a chosen keyword, but should also have a distinct, identifiable theme, preferably related to your personal interests in fashion or your career aspirations in fashion. You will submit a preliminary thesis statement and outline, which will be graded and returned to you with feedback. Your final product will be graded for visual and technical polish, as well as the quality of your written analysis. See the Assignments page for more information.

Final Exam
The final exam will be cumulative, based on the online content generated by the class over the semester (including Pinterest boards, Event Reviews, and Keyword Curations).