HUM 1, How to be a (Fashion) Critic

HUM 001 - Humanities Forum
Claire Goldstein

When Clark Kent and Peter Parker become superheroes, we can tell because they have changed their outfits.

When Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden in the book of Genesis, the first thing they did was clothe themselves. The biblical text marks the transformation from the state of nature to the dawn of civilized society with the act of putting on clothing.

When people in 18th-century France demanded a new form of government, men showed their revolt against aristocratic privilege by rejecting the knee-breeches (culottes) worn by noblemen and instead wearing long pants. The revolutionaries were known thereafter as the sans-culottes

Why did Melania Trump wear a blouse with a pussy bow to her husband’s presidential inauguration? And what did Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wear to the 2022 Metropolitan Museum Gala? 

In this two-unit Humanities course*, we will delve into the cultural significance of fashion from the high heels King Louis XIV of France donned as part of his campaign to dominate his unruly court to the white pants suits both Democratic and Republican women have worn to claim the legacy of the suffragists. We will study fashion icons (Marie Antoinette, Mao, Harry Styles) as well as ethical issues fashion raises, and the role fashion plays in social movements and identity formation. In short readings and slide lectures we will explore a wide range of approaches to better understand the role fashion plays in our world and our everyday lives.  Approaches will include anthropology; cultural studies; sociology; literary reading; semiotics; psychoanalysis; race and gender studies; and economic, historical and art historical analysis.   GE credit: AH.

*Students enrolled in the lecture have the option of enrolling in a once-a-week discussion section, HUM 001D, for two additional units and additional GE credit (Writing). There are four available sections (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday). Taking a discussion section along with the lecture earns you GE credit: AH, WE.

All course readings available on Canvas