Benjamin, Barthes, and Fashion
Fashion and Theory: Exploring critical perspectives in fashion and dress studies
The University of Manchester
June 28th, 2013
Historian, philosopher and literary critic Walter Benjamin wrote on fashion’s relationship to modernity, commodity fetishism, history, and memory. In his unfinished Arcades Project, the notes for a large section on Fashion reveal Benjamin’s desire to read the medium of dress culturally, materially, historically, and through his own brand of Marxist analysis.
Roland Barthes developed a semiotic system for interpreting the discourse of fashion. Barthes’ The Fashion System, the seminal work on fashion and semiotics, suggests fashion can be understood as a language composed of codes, signs, and significations.
Both Barthes and Benjamin wrote on fashion’s relationship to temporality, memory and history, and both critically investigated the potential of dress as metaphor in literary and visual analysis. In the vein of such work as Caroline Evans’ Fashion at the Edge (2003), which utilizes Benjamin’s writing on fashion and time, and Malcolm Barnard’s Fashion as Communication (1996), which engages with Barthesian semiology, this conference presents new critical readings of fashion that engage with Benjaminian and Barthesian theories.
This international, interdisciplinary conference brings together researchers who are examining these themes across the mediums of film, advertising, contemporary fashion, painting, and exhibitions.
Caroline Evans is our confirmed keynote speaker.
Register online through The University of Manchester.