As a young academic, the importance of publications is regularly reiterated to me. The often-repeated mantra of ‘publish or perish‘ rings in the ears of many of my peers. While some PhD students plunge forward into the world of journal publishing, others flounder without guidance of what, when, and where they should publish. As the editor of a history journal directed at postgraduate students, these questions often come in my direction. In this post, I will outline how the publishing process works, before giving some hints, advice, and titbits of information I have picked up.
1) When to publish
The first question many young researchers face is whether or not they have written an article of publishable standard. What is good enough? What is useful enough? Working in a very subjective field, there is no formula for ‘good enough’. Often, you won’t know if it is good enough until you start putting it out there. The best route is to try out your work at conferences, gauge reactions, and work from there. Most important though, is whether you, as a researcher, feel that you have made a contribution to your field with this work.
2) Where to publish
Once you’ve decided that you’re ready to brave the publishing experience, the first decision to make is where to publish. This post is written mainly with journals in mind, but of course there are also chapters in edited volumes, conference proceedings, and other avenues to consider.
Focusing on journals, do you publish in a postgraduate journal, or a specialist journal in your field? As the editor of a postgraduate journal, I recommend them as a first experience, but ideally with an essay from an MA, or work from early PhD research. They are a fantastic experience of how the process works, but they are not the best place for the finished research from your PhD. In the UK, we have the REF, and it is imperative to publish in REF recognised journals.
However, the best approach is simply to ask: what journal would it suit best? Which other journals have articles on similar topics? Are there any particular journals you frequently footnote? Don’t be afraid of trying your ideal journal, even if it seems scary and important. Even if they don’t accept you, the feedback will be invaluable.
3) How to submit
The important thing here is to follow guidelines exactly. Every journal will provide them, and if they don’t, request them. As an editor, mis-formatted submissions immediately receive a negative response. Not only does it create more work for the journal team, it also doesn’t look professional.
4) What will happen
Following submission, you will usually receive a response either directly rejecting the article (in which case, return to point 2 – this could simply mean you chose the wrong place), or informing you it will be going out for peer-review. In this process, two academics in your field will read and comment upon your work anonymously. These comments are returned to the editor, who in turn passes them on to you. There are three primary outcomes at this stage 1) acceptance, 2) acceptance with revisions, 3) decline. The latter two outcomes are far more usual than the first. Whatever happens, the feedback will be invaluable.
Feedback should never be ignored. Yes, it may be contradictory, and you may disagree, but these are the opinions of your peers. The editor will usually provide some guidance about what to ignore and what to follow, but aside from this, even if you are rejected, take that feedback onboard. If you disagree, make sure you still address the point – you may simply need to clarify some point they have misunderstood. The point of the process is to improve, and to publish the best possible research; and every submission, whether from a graduate student or a professor, receives the same treatment.
Everyone has to keep publishing, and every academic is scared of rejection. The key is to try, to take it in your stride, to improve, and to make your research the best it can be. That, after all, is why we do what we do.
The thrust of the collection is decidedly local. While some international designers are represented … they are dwarfed by items associated with notable Viennese personalities, such as one of Maria Theresia’s cashmere shawls, a pair of ballerina Fanny Elssler’s shoes, one of playwright Johann Nestroy’s dressing gowns, a parasol from the opening of the Suez Canal, boots belonging to Helene Vetsera… (117)
And on and on goes an impressive paragraph on the Wien Museum’s collection, ripe with meaning, personalities, and object lessons. But this excerpt also indicates Vienna’s bigger fashion issue that forms the premise of Wien Chic: it is bogged down in the city’s indefatigable history; the international items are true objects of fashion, while the local is represented best by historic dress. Susan Ingram and Markus Reisenleitner seek to identify “a locational history of Vienna fashion” that re-places Vienna into a global sphere, this time not the stylistic or the musical, but the fashionable.
Here, “fashion” becomes a byway through which the authors explore the aesthetics of the city, the multiplicity of Viennese self-identification and the spaces that at least some of those identified bodies interact with, create, enjoy. This is, after all, a locational history, and the locations are not only geographic (Vienna) but architectural or found in anecdotes on city planning. I was instead expecting a sort of glorified, academized street style book (possibly “misled” by the cover image), an understanding of how “Viennese” or “Vienna” can be expressed through clothing, fashion, and style.
In this volume, clothing/dress/style are not given primacy in the authors’ understanding of “fashion.” There was a fashion for all things Baroque (albeit by a different name), and its lasting influence on Vienna is underscored. But in the whole chapter on “Baroque Chic,” fashion/dress are never discussed, only architecture and ethos. Neither is it in the subsequent chapter on “Ringstrasse Chic,” but the leather jacket is mentioned as a visual indicator of “Prolo Chic” in the next. The section on “Ausländer (foreigner) Chic” speaks more to the role of the foreigner as portrayed in films and the changes in vocabulary that accompanied their changing ethnicities and status over the past two hundred years. As they summarize:
Baroque chic paved the way for the expression and understanding of passion and of suffering. Ringstrasse Chic put capital in charge, which restructured the city and expedited the pace of change. Prolo Chic and Ausländer Chic both participated in and responded to this change, mitigating its tendency to mythologize elites. Taken together, they provide a unique composite that fashion has had to grapple with in trying to make inroads into the Viennese urban imagery. (96)
This is all very important backstory and separate fashions, and the real strength of the book: books about fashion don’t have to be about clothes, just as in English the word “fashion” does not always mean dress or clothing. It seems here that the authors use fashion as a metonym for modernity. They note that “what is at stake in fashion is the pleasure derived from change, an all-encompassing cultural phenomenon that applies to more than dress or ornamentation.“ (10) The authors’ struggle to bring the thesis back around to fashion/dress is mirrored in the struggles to achieve a balance in creating modern, forward-moving architecture while maintaining the baroque aesthetic that many in Vienna still cherish, described at length in the book: the story gets caught in a historical-interest loop. Vienna can’t commit to fashion/dress, and the authors can’t commit to it either.
Modernity means something quite different, something much more inflected and influenced by the weight of the historical, especially the baroque, in the Viennese context than it does in other modern Euro-American cities, such as London, Paris, Berlin, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. (9)
But although they “find fashion a useful heuristic wedge to open up the spatial specificity of the cultural-historical struggle inherent in the modernity of Vienna’s urban context,” [ed. note: Phew!] the wedge doesn’t seem a purposeful tool until more than 100 pages into the text (of 170). When we finally get to the applied fashion/dress section, it is split into Museum Chic and Designer Chic, reflecting the authors’ interest in the two as separate but occasionally overlapping spheres.
The introductory note to this section is quite good, using “the chics” to look very briefly at fashion (although not the other way around, as suggested above): “in the first instance, fashion is primarily staged in the city’s baroque tradition of conspicuous display.” In the Museum Chic section we are rarely treated with descriptions of the museums’ holdings, strengths, intriguing or important past fashion exhibitions (except for the passage above and a list is hidden in the notes), but most often the text jumps back into the loop for a comparison of the museums’ roles, historically and contemporarily, in Vienna’s cultural capital and landscape. However, the Wien Museum is credited with “mov[ing] the role of fashion … to the centre and giv[ing] it visibility.” Its inclusive intentions best fit with the Prolo and Ausländer chics, as a public offering with a focused mission. The MAK (Austrian Museum of Applied Arts Vienna) is most significant here for its leadership issues, Wiener Werkstätte collection, various fashion schools, and complex relationship with the category of “applied and decorative arts.”
The renowned museum cluster called the Museumsquartier (MQ) has worked with or offered spaces for fashion exploration and support, and also creates “inclusive” space for a wider public than private fashion shows (which are never truly addressed, other than to dismiss them as elitist), fulfilling an important anti-Baroque quality that the authors admire. (1).
The final chapter, Designer Chic, begins with designer Helmut Lang, offering a background on his unhappy teenage years that may have inspired him to become a designer, the schools he attended, Anna Wintour’s admiration…but not a lot about his collections, hardly an adjective or descriptor to explain his work–even from others. Is this less important than his childhood in the Styrian Alps? Is it left up to the reader to explore Lang’s work further, or does it assume a common foreknowledge of his aesthetic? The art Lang has made and shown is given more thought; it does, of course, use clothing, textiles, and garments from his label, but it is only in the guise of Artworks that these objects receive recognition and academic handling. The authors use the art to speculate about Lang’s attitude toward his clothing design, which is described as “champion[ing] the independent, proletarian heritage of jeans.” (Prolo chic!)
In their conclusion, the authors remark that:
What became apparent in our investigations is that Vienna’s urban imaginary is so intimately linked to its historical legacy that its fashion system’s inherently modern, change-oriented dynamic is constantly forced to define itself in relation to its past. (175)
And this book certainly proves that, in part due to the lack of observation of fashion; the structures, both physical and social, surrounding them were examined at length here, and occasionally applied to fashion/dress. As an explanation of why fashion has such a difficult time taking in root in Vienna, this work is excellent. Maybe it’s unfair of me to expect or desire an account of buying and wearing clothing in Vienna as opposed to Paris or Seoul, or what it is like to design in Vienna instead of New York or London (or Denver?). But instead of adding to the body of work that describes fashion/dress outside of Major Fashion Cities, this book confirms that those are the places whose fashion systems actually deserve direct examination. An insightful, apropos remark is hidden in a note:
We would not want to be misunderstood as suggesting that it is due to Helmut Lang’s influence that these [younger designers'] collections contain echoes of his; rather, we would want to see them all as part of the larger system, one, moreover, that tends to produce a quite unique, more understated look than one tends to find in the fashion capitals. (172)
While the authors stated plainly that they did not want to create simply a comparison study, that “unique look” is never discussed explicitly. By offering each of the young designers and the entire concept of “sustainability” little more than a page or a paragraph and one small photograph each at the end of the book, contemporary fashion design that is unique to Vienna is effectively an afterthought, literally an endnote.
This book can perhaps be compared to the Fashion Scandinavia book I reviewed a few months ago; while an interesting read, it offered somewhat shallow, short interviews with fashion designs from all over Scandinavia, along with photographs chosen and submitted by the designer(s). Also locational, that book intended to help spread the word about new talent as well as collecting images and words that might begin to define “Scandinavian fashion” (despite the surprisingly different cultures within that loose geographical area). Wiener Chic does not attempt this definition, but rather seems to define everything but, the physical surroundings, the people, the art, the history. Somewhere in between these two is a truly useful and dynamic resource for the fashion historian; this book’s sister publication, Berliner Chic, accomplishes its goal much more effectively.
However, I really did enjoy this book! It was a truly engaging and well-written look at various aesthetic aspects of Viennese life, and laid a foundation for a very interesting future discussion on fashion and the spaces it inhabits, fills, or is lacking. I especially like the story-telling language that gives the often heavy academic historical prose a little lift:
[The Wien Museum] included, and put on display, the holdings of the city’s armoury (the Zeughaus), where not only the weapons that armed the citizens of Vienna were store but also the spoils of the two failed Ottoman sieges of 1529 and 1683. Displays emphasized the city’s historical role as a bulwark against the threats thought to be emanating from the East and characterized Vienna as a feisty place whose spirit of independence was temporarily subdued during the early modern absolutist period of the Habsburg’s reign, only to be resurrected by the Liberals wresting away the Ringstrasse urban modernization project from the imperial rulers. (112)
I can’t decide if it honors fashion/dress to go beyond the obvious descriptions and overwrought “examinations” of designers’ collections and museum exhibitions to find a more dynamic understanding of “Urban Chic,” or if the authors’ treatment of the subject (largely ignoring the material realities and even its easily accessible aesthetics) reduces it to a lesser-than-Art byproduct of life in Vienna. It’s obvious that the authors are more interested in film, architecture, and social structures than the fashion system per se, but by playing on that word in English, it does bring the fashion/dress into those “higher” scholarly realms. It may be interesting to more closely compare this 2014 look at fashion/modernity with Adolf Loo’s turn-of-the-twentieth-century commentary on modernity and Vienna (see Stewart). Although Vienna is not included in Breward and Gilbert or in Potvin, those books are more directly relevant to “locating” fashion in specific cities, albeit mostly the more obvious ones.
There are very few books like this out there, and I want to encourage these non-predictable approaches to the subject of fashion/dress. I look forward to the continuation of the Urban Chic Series (edited by Susan Ingram), and I especially hope it continues to avoid the traditional “Fashion Cities” and will look for the more interesting stories; this seems to be the intention. I wonder which city will be next?
Have you read this book, or Berliner Chic? Which cities do you think merit or require a locational history of fashion?
(1) Speaking of which, this book is relatively academic-jargon-free, the one exception being “baroque,” despite their warning of general overuse of the word when describing Viennese culture.
Lead Image: Cover of Wiener Chic by Susan Ingram & Markus Reisenleitner. Intellect & University of Chicago Press, 2013.
Find more Book Reviews on Worn Through here!
Brandstätter, Christian et al. Vienna 1900: art, life, and culture. New York: Vendome Press, 2006.
Breward, Christopher and David Gilbert. Fashion’s World Cities. Oxford: Berg, 2006.
Gilbert, David. “World Cities of Fashion” in The Fashion Reader, Linda Welters and Abby Lillethun, eds. Oxford: Berg, 2011. [More here about space/place in Part V, "Fashion: space and place].
Ingram, Susan and Katrina Sark. Berliner Chic: A Locational History of Berlin Fashion. Bristol, UK: Intellect, 2011.
Kremer, Roberta S. Broken Threads: the destruction of the Jewish Fashion Industry in Germany and Austria. Oxford: Berg, 2007.
Kwon, Miwon. One Place After Another: Site-specific art and locational identity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002.
Levine, Lawrence. Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988.
Potvin, John. The places and spaces of fashion, 1800-2007. New York: Routledge, 2009.
Quinn, Bradley. The Fashion of Architecture. Oxford: Berg, 2003.
Stewart, Janet. Fashioning Vienna: Adolf Loos’ cultural criticism. London: Routledge, 2002.
Thun-Hohenstein, Christoph. Contemporary Vienna: architecture, art, design, film, literature, music. Wien: Schlebrügge, 2010.
Walkner, Martin et al. No fashion, please!: Photography between gender and lifestyle. Wien: Kunsthalle Vien, 2011.
While fashion is most certainly an art form, it is also a product that is consumed. While trends, styles, and our own personal tastes may dictate what we consume and when, the fact remains that what we put on our bodies is obtained as a result of consumption. As our societies expand into what many would call “over-consumption”, this relationship is of increased interest to researchers in all fields, including dress studies. The four articles below examine different aspects of the consumption interaction, from the changes industrialization caused in consumption among eighteenth-century Norwegian fisher-men and -women to a proposed design solution for today’s excess apparel consumption problem, and from Black Friday to popular wardrobe self-help shows and literature. We hope you enjoy!
1. Cao, H., Chang, R., Kallal, J., Manalo, G., McCord, J., Shaw, J., & Starner, H. (2014). Adaptable apparel: A sustainable design solution for excess apparel consumption problem. Journal of Fashion Marketings and Management, 18(1), 52-69.
Excess consumption of apparel is driven by the apparel industry to offer more styles at lower prices in shorter time and the consumers’ desire to change fashion. The purpose of this paper is to apply adaptable design in apparel as a sustainable design solution for the excess consumption problem. Guided by sustainable apparel design model C2CAD, two adaptable apparel prototypes for female college students were designed and developed. Both prototypes were comfortable to wear by users with different sizes, indicating the users could wear the garment when she changed size. The adaptations and conversions were easily and enjoyably figured out by the users. The users would keep and use the adaptable apparel for a long time. The users would also buy fewer apparel items if they were to own the adaptable apparel. Adaptable apparel would increase apparel utilization, eliminate the need to purchase unnecessary additional amounts of clothing, and reduce excess consumption. This research provided a pilot study on adaptable apparel design as an innovative approach to help solve the excessive consumption problem. The adaptable garment prototypes would allow the fashion-forward female college student to easily change the function, fit, and style of the environmentally friendly garments. – Paraphrased Article Abstract
2. Hutchinson, A. (2014). Consumption and endeavour: Motives for the acquisition of new consumer goods in a region in the north of Norway in the 18th century. Scandinavian Journal of History, 39(1), 27-48.
Over the course of the 18th century, it is apparent from studies of probate inventories that the consumption of bought textiles, stimulants and household goods among common people increased substantially. This article presents empirical evidence to demonstrate that this is the case also among fisher-farming households in the region of north Norway studied here. The article then explores the relevance of the concept of an industrious revolution to explain the changes in consumption. It would appear that increased consumption was accompanied by more strenuous work, but whether consumption change was demand or supply led is undetermined. Attention is given to what motivated the acquisition of new consumables. It is shown that new consumer goods were used to bolster traditional customs. Nonetheless, attitudes towards acquisition and a desire to increase comfort might have been significant factors leading to increasing demand. – Full Article Abstract
3. Lennon, S. J., Lee, J., Kim, M., & Johnson, K. K. P. (2014). Antecedents of consumer misbehaviour on Black Friday: A social responsibility view. Fashion, Style & Popular Culture, 1(2), 193-212.
Consumer misbehaviour is non-normative behaviour in consumption situations and is a form of socially irresponsible behaviour motivated by self interest. Consumer misbehaviours have been widely reported on Black Friday (BF), the day after Thanksgiving in the US when retailers offer ‘doorbuster’ deals. Based on the exchange paradigm and the General Aggression Model (GAM), five hypotheses were developed and tested with structural equation modelling using data from BF shoppers (N=260). Results found that the presence of unpleasant fellow customers positively influenced perceptions of inequity, while crowding negatively influenced perceptions of inequity. Perceptions of crowding negatively affected consumer misbehaviour on BF, while the presence of unpleasant customers inflated consumer misbehaviour on BF. A positive relationship was found for perceptions of inequity on BF consumer misbehaviour. Both presence of unpleasant fellow customers and perceived crowding had significant indirect effects on BF consumer misbehaviour via perceptions of inequity. We show how BF misbehaviour is socially irresponsible and use a social responsibility framework to interpret results and suggest solutions that fairly balance the needs of all stakeholders. – Full Article Abstract
4. Mikkonen, I., Vicdan, H., & Markkula, A. (2014). What not to wear? Oppositional ideology, fashion, and govern mentality in wardrobe self-help. Consumption Markets & Culture, 17(3), 254-273.
In this paper, the authors draw attention to the emancipatory premises of oppositional ideologies and the ideological nature of consumption in the context of fashion. Drawing on the Foucauldian concept of power, they illustrate how a specific genre of self-help literature, termed wardrobe self-help (WSH), produces an alternative mode of discourse about fashion and clothing as a cultural mediator. The findings challenge the prevailing fashion ideology that capitalizes on emancipation and unravel the means through which WSH oppositional ideology governs consumers. Consequently, the authors argue that while oppositional ideologies can blur the boundaries between coercion and consent, and act as vehicles of repression and liberation, they ultimately come to govern, if not limit, consumer choice and expression. – Paraphrased Article Abstract
Image Credit: stellafluorescent.blogspot.com
Ok so this is a bit of a frivolous post, but I have a nagging question for readers that I don’t think I’ve asked before (If I have my apologies):
I have a handful of Disney “It’s a Small World” items that I adore, and recently put in my daughter’s bedroom as part of an international theme. However, there is one boy magnet I purchased in 2002 and in all that time I’ve never been able settle on where he is supposed to be representing. I’ve got my guesses, but I’m curious of your thoughts.
Certainly some global fashion expert can identify the details?
I know they recently came out with a TV show and are updating the ride, however I cannot seem to get the info from those websites either.
Yes…I’ve spent too much time on this! I guess that’s a born fashion researcher right?!
Our colleague Francesca from Fashion Projects graciously took some time to profile my book Punk Style. We talked about the study and the inspirations.
Thank you to FP for the nice post!
Check it out here.
A few weeks ago, I happened upon a “fashion story” that coupled high fashion with folk dress to examine the future of Ukraine and its cultural heritage. In an article called “Fashion Dissidence,” 032c Magazine published fashion designer Anton Belinskiy’s inspiration from the country’s anti-Yanukovych protests in November 2013. Seeing a prime opportunity to use his creative powers to make a statement, Belinskiy connected with a photographer and a model on Facebook–aged 16 and 15, respectively–and they created a “fashion story.” Using traditional clothing interspersed with the collection he had shown days before at Mercedes Benz Kiev Fashion Days, Belinskiy and his photographer Alexandra Trishina and model Nastya Petryshina showed their allegiance to their Ukrainian heritage while expressing dissent and dissatisfaction.
But you may have been following the protests in Kiev since November, and may know that the violence and discord in Maidan (Independence Square) have escalated significantly in the last week, with huge fires and close to thirty people killed. The many paragraphs I wrote may find their space in a later post, but for the time being don’t feel appropriate. That is a discussion in itself, that I am reticent to bring fashion and dress into the conversation about civil rights, governance, and the right to free speech: am I codifying the idea of clothing and fashion as superficial?
I do want to share the photographs that caught my eye and inspired me weeks ago to write about the different interactions fashion has with protest and civil unrest:
Protest fashion, Kiev, 2013. Photograph copyright Alexandra Trishina.
As Belinskiy noted to 032c Magazine,
“Around us there were students covered in blood, protesters, journalists. At first they could not understand what we were doing, and some were even a bit aggressive, but then after understanding what it was they strongly supported us.”
Protest fashion in Kiev, 2013. Photograph copyright Alexandra Trishina.
Find more of Trishina’s photographs here. Are they moving? predictable? provoking?
If you’d like to read more about dress and protest today, here on Worn Through we have generally covered “protest fashion” by looking at how protestors present themselves while participating in social uprisings, statements, and sit-ins. Our contributors have written thoughtful and insightful posts, such as Tove Hermansson’s work on secondhand clothing as protest, subversive knitting,Yippies and political fashions, and more. Brenna’s Bits and Bytes column touched on the use of hoodies after Trayvon Martin’s death and Lisa and Monica collaborated on a field report for Anarchists of Style: Occupy Wall Street.
Can fashion or the use of clothing as art be considered a constructive, meaningful reaction to political upheaval? Leave your respectful comments below.
My book Punk Style was recently reviewed on Roseanne Cheng’s website which looks at Lit for youth. She has experience as a high school english teacher and author, and so she found some new ways to look at the material and points out how it can relate to high schoolers.
Click here to read her review.
Thank you Roseanne!
The 22nd Olympic Games are well underway in Sochi, and in the spirit of the event, Worn Through would like to dedicate this week’s You Should Be Reading column to three articles that explore the relationship between fashion and sports. Recent scholarship on this topic has gone beyond the study of athletic wear to extend to the effects dress and appearance have on athletes of all types. These effects touch on topics like gender, race, and nationalism, to name a few. Given the wide reach of sports in today’s society, the role of fashion in these relationships is of particular interest. The three articles below, published within the past year, feature some of the most thought-provoking research on this topic. We hope you enjoy.
1. Biddle-Perry, G. (2014). Sporting hats and national symbolism: The Kangol beret and the London Olympic Games of 1948. Clothing Cultures, 1(2), 111-126.
This article explores the British Olympic Association’s adoption of the Kangol beret for both male and female athletes at the London Games of 1948. The Games represented a critical juncture in both Olympic and British political history. The article outlines the fashion historical development of the ‘Anglo-Basque’ beret as a context for examining how the beret came to function as the symbolic embodiment of shifting concepts of British sporting nationalism within the Olympic arena. In World War II the beret became synonymous with Lord Montgomery of Alamein (Monty), and by extension the fighting spirit of the British nation. The article questions to what extent the choice of the ‘Monty’ beret in London in 1948 can be seen as both a response to the Berlin Olympics in 1936 and the wider contemporary context of a nation at the crossroads between austerity and affluence, and new demands for wider democratic freedom and welfare reform. — Full Article Abstract
2. Lorenz, S. L., & Murray, R. (2014). “Goodbye to the gangstas”: The NBA dress code, Ray Emery, and the policing of blackness in basketball and hockey. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 38(1), 23-50.
This article assesses cultural representations of Blackness in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) in relation to contemporary forms of racism in North American society. In particular, this case study examines media narratives surrounding the adoption of the NBA dress code and the behavior of NHL goaltender Ray Emery during the 2005 to 2006 basketball and hockey seasons. Despite significant differences in the racial composition of the two leagues, the NBA and the NHL made similar efforts to discipline, police, and contain the young Black males under their control. Racialized constructions of Black athletes as menacing, criminal, and dangerously different were prominent in media coverage of both sports. An exploration of these sporting controversies offers a transnational and comparative framework for understanding racial discourses in the United States and Canada today. — Full Article Abstract
3. Weber, J. D., & Carini, R. M. (2013). Where are the female athletes in Sports Illustrated? A content analysis of covers (2000-2011). International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 48(2), 196-203.
The authors content analyzed more than 11 years of Sports Illustrated (SI) covers (2000–2011) to assess how often females were portrayed, the sports represented, and the manner of their portrayal. Despite females’ increased participation in sport since the enactment of Title IX and calls for greater media coverage of female athletes, women appeared on just 4.9 percent of covers. The percentage of covers did not change significantly over the span and were comparable to levels reported for the 1980s by other researchers. Indeed, women were depicted on a higher percentage of covers from 1954–1965 than from 2000–2011. Beyond the limited number of covers, women’s participation in sport was often minimized by sharing covers with male counterparts, featuring anonymous women not related directly to sports participation, sexually objectifying female athletes, and promoting women in more socially acceptable gender-neutral or feminine sports. — Paraphrased Article Abstract
Image Credit: stellafluorescent.blogspot.com
My friend and colleague Tove Hermanson, who wrote for Worn Through for a long time (!) interviewed me for her blog Thread for Thought. We talked about some of the concepts behind my book Punk Style and a little about my background which led me to this research.
You can check it out here.
It is what they wear on their heads that receives the viewer, elaborately embroidered caps that bring to mind the 17th and 18th centuries, though they are a Danish style from the nineteenth. The shape of these caps will inevitably retain associations with childhood bonnets, demure femininity and hair-covering (to protect as well as to hide). For those not familiar with traditional Danish clothing, the photographs may conjure Vermeer’s young women and other famous Dutch portraits.
Trine Søndergaard’s new book, Stasis, is a compilation of three of her photographic series, Strude, Guldnakke, and Interiors. Sparse hallways and luminously grey windows of abandoned Danish mansions are interspersed with her portraits of young women in traditional Danish headwear and clothing. The two portrait series seem as though they could have been done simultaneously, with similar poses and composition, and they are both inquiries into the meanings of national and personal identity. But they have individual power that is only reinforced in a collection like this. It seems possible that the bonneted women could walk those halls, throw open those windows.
Immediate and still, the portraits require your attention despite the negative body language. I was so drawn to the intricate embroidery and construction of the caps in Guldnakke that I didn’t notice the young women’s clothing until the cultural and temporal contrasts made one jump out: in Guldnakke #9, a thick silver embroidered crown accented with white lace and bound with thick black ribbon of an intricate jacquard rose pattern is paired with a white lace top with black gothic lettering, underlined by a black spaghetti-strap tank and visible white bra straps.
“Guldnakke #9″ from the “Goldnakke” series by Trine Søndergaard. Image copyright Trine Søndergaard.
I paged back through and realized I had missed a faded t-shirt with an American flag motif, chain-store “jersey” t-shirts. The intention and intricacy of the headpieces, and possibly the repetitive-seeming nature of the poses, had encouraged me to flip through, noting the differences between each photograph but not those contained therein.
Originally, bonnets such as these were “traditional piece[s] of headwear for well-to-do women in the mid-nineteenth-century Danish countryside. This tradition has a fine touch to it, as the golden fabrics from which most of the caps were made were until then the privilege of royalty and nobility.” (12) Are these historic pieces, reconstructions? Does it matter?
“Bonnet” from Zealand, Denmark, late nineteenth century. From the collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.
As Mieke Bal notes in her accompanying text, “Different from the bonnets in the Strude series, which were characterized by a functional conception (protecting the women from the elements), those appear in the Guldnakke series share an ambition: they signify the ostentation of wealth.” (12) How does their pairing with modern, mass-market clothing coax meaning from the portraits, affect the choice to use each specific bonnet?
The portraits are faceless and nameless, although not uninviting; the wearers are all turned away from us but seem as though they could turn to face us at any moment. But they will not, and the bonnets, then, become the subjects, obscuring almost all natural identifying characteristics with their flat, teardrop faces. The women are “scaffolding for [the artist's] investigation.” Disregarding any socio-emotional reasons for posing the women this way, seeing the back of a garment or hat in art is special, although perhaps less so today. Bal compares Søndergaard’s work with that of Vilhelm Hammershøi, who was also interested in representing the back.
“Interior With Young Woman From Behind,” Vilhelm Hammershøi, 1904. From the Randers Museum of Art, Denmark.
Interspersed within the portraits, as well as between them, are the Interior shots. These are spaces, entrances and exitways, transitory but not in motion; a photograph from this series graces the cover [at top]. Bal ties the three together: ”Both of her series of women wearing elaborate headresses–Strude and Guldnakke–and the series Interior, taken inside empty, abandoned buildings, refuse the exchange of gazes.” (8)
“Strude #13″ from the series “Strude” by Trine Søndergaard, published in the book, “Stasis” by Hatje Cantz. Photograph copyright Trine Søndergaard.
In Strude, women are wrapped in fabric covering the hair and face instead of a structured and pleated cap. We may see faces in this series, although many are covered. There is a whiff of protest fashion in the visuals, with eyes the only visible feature on a darkly wrapped head, a two-piece balaclava. These scarves and face coverings are direct descendants of Danish folk dress from the island of Fanø. In archival photographs, the women never seem to be without one scarf wrapped around the neck and another tied securely around the head, covering her hair. Søndergaard travelled to this small island off the west coast of Denmark to shoot Strude, although with the exception of the photo quality, the portraits do not betray a specific time or place. As part of a folk dress tradition, the head wraps are both very dated and “old fashioned” as well as being somewhat timeless, or at least suspended in time; they will never be fashionable, so they never will go out of style.
Fischers Trine (Anne Catherine Hansen) at home on Fanø, 1920s or 1930s (?). Photo: Hans Pors. From Aldus.dk.
Girls in traditional dress, Fanø, c. 1911. From mitfanoe.dk.
A strude, strictly defined, is a face covering. Composed of one over- and one under-piece with holes cut for the eyes, this garment protected the wearer from strong wind and sun while working in the countryside:
A Danish woman in a “strude,” a face covering to protect from wind and sun. Illustration: C.F. Lund, from Illustreret Tidende 1860.
Søndegaard suggests that this series was inspired not only by an interest in an extant strude in a museum on Fanø, but also by a critical debate in Denmark at the time surrounding the wearing of veils by Muslim residents. What is provocative about covering a woman’s face and hair, and who may choose to do so?
“Strude 11″ from the “Strude” series by Trine Søndergaard. Photograph copyright Trine Søndergaard.
Although they are portraits in the sense that both Strude and Guldnakke are series of women’s necks, heads, and occasionally faces, these are unnamed personages. Folk dress is so tied to local identity (as well as national pride) that it has become iconic, and is rarely truly personalized in recreations today. The wearer becomes a vehicle for tradition, especially as very few (if any) wear these outfits other than on holidays. ”Søndergaard deploys the medium of portraiture to make images of faces in which individuality is overshadowed by similarity. … Danish faces are hidden, turning away, or otherwise obscured.” (7)
She has chosen similar posing in earlier series, including Monochrome , but the use of specific clothing in the series collected in Stasis adds another layer to the similarities and obscuration.
From the series “Monochrome Portraits” by Trine Søndergaard. Photograph copyright Trine Søndergaard.
Published by German firm Hatje Cantz, the aesthetics of the book are as serene as the photographs, with large white spaces and a greyscale color scheme.
Layout of the book “Stasis” by Trine Søndergaard, published by Hatje Cantz.
The photographs are printed in large format, featured on the right-hand page while facing a blank, white page. These many pages are bound on the right-hand side of the cover, which opens flat as a self-contained for viewing the works.
View of the book “Stasis” by Trine Søndergaard, published by Hatje Cantz.
There is an accompanying text mounted on the left. Its physical remove from the photographs themselves allow the reader to consult it–or not, read the academic critical essays first or last, focus on the artistic works or flip back and forth. I found that the side-by-side placement has another great function: one can open to the photograph referenced and keep the text open as well. Works best when the text is on the left.
I really liked Bal’s challenge to those seeking meaning in painting and portraiture, or a “why?”. Here she writes of Vermeer’s The Girl With the Pearl Earring :
Why would she have a pearl earring became a key question [sic]. The answer? She had to be a servant girl with whom the master is enamored, and so on. Let the romance begin. This romantic thinking endeavors to overwrite the one impossible explanation: that she, a simple girl, just possesses a pearl earring. (8)
Mostly because it questioned my own reading of the work, my desire to understand why these women were wrapped with calico and lace, why these traditional garments were being recreated or mimicked, and subsequently photographed. There must be a reason; these photographs are heavy with intention! The framing of the head, the repetition, the juxtaposition: I dutifully did the costume history research to figure it out. And this is probably how I prefer to interact with art, pleased with my knowingness and totally subscribing to the traditional hierarchies of knowledge, but I hardly think it’s the best way. How important it is it to be an informed audience? What will these photographs communicate without a previous familiarity with Danish folk dress?
Bal wonders, “[w]hat kind of discourse is this? Uninvited, I am detailing, and worse, judging, by calling the face beautiful, the face of another person who refrains from engaging in eye contact with me.” But as “[w]rong-headed as it was, the outcome of my compulsion to judge was neither wrong nor arbitrary. The image pushed me to do it.” (11) I too felt the need to give my own analysis and experience of viewing the photographs here, drawn to use the works as documentation of material culture. What is it about her work that encourages these responses?
Bal’s essay goes so enthusiastically into art theoretical readings of the collected works that I felt it began to disconnect me from the photographs themselves. When is a ribbon just a ribbon, and when is it a commentary on balance and color theory? From thoughtful challenges and self-criticism she jumps into long, sometimes “wrong” descriptions of the clothing (as much as one can call another’s observation wrong): in an overwrought paragraph about intersecting lines and abstraction of colors, Bal suggests that the stripes of a printed jersey top are not printed but instead “bands of braided fabric” (I maintain that they are printed; bygones). This may be some conceptual, irrealistic observation of the fabric that I didn’t pick up on, similar to her allusive description of the same girl’s earring as a “perhaps blue, perhaps green pearl,” referencing her commentary on Vermeer earlier in the essay. The book benefits greatly from Bal’s essay, but some intermediary information might have been nice for newcomers like me. I imagine it was a very intentional choice on the part of the editors and publisher not to include descriptions and information from the artist; I admire the format and the primacy of the image. In any case, it’s plenty easy to look up interviews with the author, read her own artist’s statement on her website.
What does Stasis contribute to the discussion around the use and relevancy of historic dress and its role in identity production? With my background interest in Scandinavian folk dress, I was immediately drawn to the objects depicted, and the posing, the light, etc all came afterward. That Søndergaard named each series and each photograph with the name of the dress object is significant. With the exception of fashion photographs (which is hardly always about the garments), clothing can be incidental in art photography; here it nearly obfuscates the wearers. Stasis would be an excellent jumping-off point for a review of clothing used in art photography; there are dozens of books on fashion photography, and a range of books on fashion and art (is it?), but not enough that examine the use of dress as a function of art. (Leave tips about your favorite works on the subject in the comments section!)
Trine Søndergaard’s use of headwear from Danish folk dress and clothing history has produced simply beautiful, still photographs, with deep currents underneath. The thoughtful fashion historian will regard this work as a chance to challenge and revisit the fabrics and composition of our dress and textile histories, how certain garments or styles evolve over time–or not–and what their changing use means to us socially. Their meanings are never static–even if they can feel staid or stuffy. Portraits will always reflect the time in which the are produced, although they may express ideas and ideals instead of an “accurate” mirror image of popular style. This may include nineteenth-century painters dressing models in classical clothing to encourage a “timeless” and unbound reading of their genius, teenagers in the faddiest formal fashions for a prom photo, or using very specifically dated dress objects from a country’s history to examine our relationships with nationality, identity, and the self.
Lead Photo Credit: Cover of Stasis, by Trine Søndergaard. Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz, 2014.
Find more Book Reviews on Worn Through here!
Watch a video interview with Søndergaard on the Louisiana Channel here. [English subtitles]
Andersen, Ellen. Folkedragter i Danmark. Copenhagen, 1952.
Bright, Susan, ed. Face of Fashion. London: National Portrait Gallery, 2007.
Brilliant, Richard. Portraiture. London: Reaktion, 1991.
Ditner, Judy, ed. Dress Codes: The Third ICP Triennial of Photo and Video.
Guggenheim Museum Soho. Art/Fashion. New York: 1996.
Kunstmuseum Wolfsberg. Art and Textile: Fabric as Material and Concept in Modern Art from Klimt to the Present. Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz, 2014.