Welcome to the course blog for Gender and Women’s Studies 485: The Politics of Fashion, Fall 2011! You will find here reading notes and other materials for the course, including links and other media I may post for you to consider.
This seminar is a reading and writing-intensive seminar requiring significant collaboration. Over the course of the semester, each student will collaborate in a small group to the contribution of ONE discussion point related to course themes. A discussion point can take the form of a critical question, news article, advertisement, image, song, video clip, et cetera, that elaborates upon a key concept from the readings. Your group will be asked to discuss the point in class –discussing the reading without summarizing the reading!– and make the discussion point accessible to the other students (this means showing the clip, making copies of the image or article, Powerpoint/Keynote slides, etc.). You will also need to turn in to me a one-page paper about the point relating it to that week’s readings. These will be collected at the end of each class session.
Your group will then co-author one post-class blog posting builds on a key concept from the discussion, due before the following class session (this means you have a week, but it’s probably best to do before the week is out and you are onto other readings). Students not responsible for a blog posting that week will be responsible for substantially commenting and responding to the blog posts in a way that demonstrates knowledge of the readings and understanding of the concepts.
Be thoughtful and constructive – no ad hominem attacks or flaming. The purpose of this exercise is, of course, to encourage you to engage your peers in a dialogue about the readings, but also about the issues raised by the readings. Each post should be at least 400 words. Each response to a post should be a minimum of 200 words. Late blog posts will be docked ten points each day it is posted late. Comments are closed 14 days after the initial publication of the post. No comments will be accepted after 14 days.
STEP ONE: You can approach your discussion point/blog post in one of two ways. You may choose an object that in some way relates to the theme or concepts of the class session. These objects can range widely – you can analyze a t.v. show, (e.g., What Not to Wear) or a genre of t.v. shows (e.g., makeover shows or plastic surgery); you can choose a particular figure or sort of figure (e.g., The Black Panthers, Angela Davis and her “famous” afro); popular events (e.g., diasporic beauty pageants) or another sort of cultural phenomenon (e.g., Hot Topic).
Or, you may identify themes or questions that tie together the readings as a coherent unit. This should NOT serve as a summary of the readings, but an engagement with their arguments. AGAIN — DO NOT SUMMARIZE.
STEP TWO: Depending on which approach you choose, consider the object with attention to its relevance to the “theme” of the class session as much as possible, as well as to the readings. Or if you choose to focus on themes from the readings, be sure to refrain from summary and instead apply your critical skills to the readings. Do you agree or disagree with its basic premises? Which aspects of the readings struck you as particularly significant, or useful? How might you apply those insights?
STEP THREE: You will present your discussion point to the class as a way into a broader discussion of the readings. As noted above, you must make your discussion point accessible to the class, and keep your presentation to 15 minutes. It might be helpful to accompany your discussion point with questions, and specific quotes from the readings, that can jump-start the discussion.
STEP FOUR: The “after” post will respond to the class discussion and must be posted by the following class session. In this response, you will consider what further insights you might have gleaned about the discussion point, or from the readings, in the context of that week’s in-class discussion.