CFP: Cultural Studies Association National Conference

Call for Participation: Cultural Studies Association National Conference, Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, IL

May 23-26, 2013

Seminar on Fashion Studies as an Emergent Intellectual Formation and Project

Seminar Director: Debra Parr, Chair, Fashion Studies + Associate Professor, Art and Design History, Columbia College Chicago

Seminar Description: While it could be argued that fashion subjects all areas of culture to its logic (Adorno­), fashion studies remains a minor field of inquiry in the United States academy. Fashion – central to the emergence of capitalism and theorized by Charles Baudelaire as critical to the formation of the subjects of modernization – has been much studied in Europe and Australia, but has continued to be a marginal site of research in the US. This seminar calls for a positioning of fashion studies as an intellectual project that has important work to do in a global arena. One important project for fashion studies: commitment to interventions in the fashion system (Barthes) to make visible what is hidden by the culture industry, marketing and retail strategies, and the promise of innovation. As Susan Buck-Morss argues, “in fashion, the phantasmagoria of commodities presses closest to the skin.” This seminar will provide scholars an opportunity to think through the lived relations of designing, producing, wearing clothes – which, as theorist Allison Gill asserts, involves “technical skills, habits, movements, thinking, desire, memory, imagination, sensation. Scholars interested in the formation of fashion studies as a field of inquiry, interested in considering the familiar, everyday experience of the most intimate habitus are welcome to participate.

A few questions the seminar will consider: What is, or could be, the work of fashion studies? What is fashion studies as an institutional phenomenon? What are the conditions under which fashion studies can emerge as a field of inquiry within the academy?  What are the other disciplines with which fashion studies might be aligned? What is the relation between fashion studies and cultural studies? How is fashion studies perceived by other areas of study with which it might develop interdisciplinary projects? What would a major in fashion studies look like?

The format of the seminar will include sharing papers with a roundtable discussion.

All those interested, please send a brief statement of interest and a CV to by April 1, 2013.

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