Re-fashioning the Body: Posthumanism and New Materialism in Contemporary Fashion

Parsons School of Design: Sch. Art and Dsgn Hist and Th

Liberal Arts
Undergraduate Course
Graduate Course
Degree Students
Re-fashioning the Body
Spring 2024
Taught By: Francesca Granata
Section: A

CRN: 5383

Credits: 3

At the turn of the twenty-first century, experimental fashion presented grotesque bodies-out-of-bounds, which moved a critique to norms of beauty and propriety. This shift was influenced by feminism’s desire to open up and question gender and bodily norms and particularly the normative bodies of fashion, as well as by the AIDS epidemic. In the twenty-first century, fashion designers have continued this exploration, further breaking down boundaries between humans and non-humans, subjects, and objects. As the centrality of the human comes into question, in the wake of the looming climate crisis, posthumanism has increasingly come to bear on experimental fashion. In posthumanism, the human is no longer the centre of the world, which exists as a passive resource for human endeavour marked by exploitative and self-serving relation, but rather the human becomes a co-creator with the non-human and earth “other.” Fashion as an embodied practice connected to material is an important site for the study of this assemblage of human/non-human matter. This seminar will interrogate these shifts and explore: Why is the sealed and “perfect” body, of classicism so forcefully challenged by contemporary designers? How can we read this proliferation of the grotesque in relation to changes in gender roles, normative sexuality, and the AIDS crisis? How do theories of the posthuman and new materialism influence contemporary fashion and performance? In the class, we look at a range of media including the video and performance work of Leigh Bowery in collaboration with Charles Atlas and Michael Clark, the dance performances by Merce Cunningham in collaboration with Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons; the experimental fashion shows staged by Alexander McQueen, Martin Margiela, and Hood by Air and the work of Iris Van Herpen. We also examine textiles’ relation to the body as a second skin, a surface on which bodily borders are negotiated. Our readings will draw from fashion studies, art and design history, feminist and queer theory, trans studies, science studies, and medical anthropology. Among the authors read will be Rosi Braidotti, Donna Haraway, Paul B. Preciado, José Esteban Muñoz, Lynda Nead, Emily Martin, Mikhail Bakhtin, Caroline Evans, Monica Miller, and Anneke Smelik.

Open to: All university graduate degree students. Some seats reserved for MA Fashion Studies students.

College: Parsons School of Design (PS)

Department: Sch. Art and Dsgn Hist and Th (ADHT)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Modality: In-Person

Max Enrollment: 15

Add/Drop Deadline: February 4, 2024 (Sunday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: April 16, 2024 (Tuesday)

Seats Available: Yes

* Seats available but reserved for a specific population.

Status: Closed*

* Status information is updated every few minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 9:36am EDT 7/12/2024

Meeting Info:
Days: Tuesday
Times: 4:00pm - 5:50pm
Building: 6 East 16th Street
Room: 910
Date Range: 1/23/2024 - 5/7/2024