Fashion Unbound

Parsons School of Design: Art and Design History

Liberal Arts
Undergraduate Course
Degree Students
Fashion Unbound
Spring 2023
Taught By: Francesca Granata
Section: A

CRN: 5258

Credits: 3

This seminar examines experimental fashion and performance art from the 1980s up to the present. It explores the ever-increasing challenge posed by practioners from the art and fashion fields to the “classical” concept of the body and of beauty, which found one of its most successful articulations in the images surrounding twentieth century high fashion. Examining the way artists as well as designers problematize easy demarcations between the inside and outside of the body, the course questions why this period saw an explosion of grotesque imagery—an imagery articulating unsettling ruptures of borders—which had been lurking just beneath the surface throughout the twentieth century. Among the questions we will ask are: Why is the sealed and “perfect” body, which developed in the Western vocabulary as early as the Renaissance, so forcefully challenged by contemporary designers and artists? 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 influence contemporary fashion and performance? We look at a range of media from the video and performance work of Leigh Bowery in collaboration with Charles Atlas and Michael Clark, to the dance performances by Merce Cunningham in collaboration with Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons; to the experimental fashion shows staged by Alexander McQueen, Martin Margiela and Hood by Air to the pop phenomenon of Lady Gaga. 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, disability studies, science studies and medical anthropology. The seminar will pose a series of self-reflexive questions and exercises tying the readings to the students’ own dress and design practices.

Open to: All university undergraduate degree students. Pre-requisite(s): first-year university writing course and at least two prior history or methods course in art, media, film, or visual culture. One of these courses should be 3000-level.

College: Parsons School of Design (PS)

Department: Art and Design History (PLAD)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Modality: In-Person

Max Enrollment: 21

Add/Drop Deadline: February 5, 2023 (Sunday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: April 16, 2023 (Sunday)

Seats Available: No

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: 3:26am EDT 6/4/2023

Meeting Info:
Days: Monday
Times: 12:10pm - 2:50pm
Building: Academic Entrance 63 Fifth Ave
Room: 202
Date Range: 1/23/2023 - 5/15/2023