Skip to main content

Fashion Matters: East Asia

This course will focus on both the historical, social, and cultural development of fashion, clothing, and consumption in East Asia. Using a variety of sources, from fiction to art, from bodily modification to textile production, from legal codes to advertisements, we will study both actual garments created and worn in society throughout history, as well as the ways in which they inform the social characterization of class, ethnicity, nationality, and gender. Among the topics we will analyze in this sense will be hairstyle, foot-binding, plastic surgery, and, in a deeper sense, bodily practices that inform most fashion-related discourses in East Asia. We will also think through the issue of fashion consumption as an often-contested site of modernity, especially in relationship to the issue of globalization and world-market. Thus, we will also include a discussion of international fashion designers, along with analysis of phenomena such as sweatshops.