The Green Hat: Fashion in Word and Image

Taking its name from British novelist Michael Arlen’s 1924 tale of a fashionable young society widow, this course will explore two intertwined ideas: the representation of fashion, and fashion itself as a unique mode of representation. Concepts of “fashion” and “image” are intimately related, whether fashion is understood as a personal means for creating a self-image, or, in the context of the nineteenth-century rise of capitalism, for instance, as a way to fabricate and market a “mass image” to an ever-broadening class of consumers. Beginning in the final decades of the eighteenth century and running through the mid-twentieth century, this team-taught course will examine fashion and its meanings through the lenses of various types of verbal and nonverbal image: popular novels, articles and “fashion plates” in period journals, painted portraits and interior scenes, graphic and photographic advertisements, as well as film. Course material will focus on developments in France, Britain, and Germany as well as the United States, though students may explore other regions in their final projects. 3 credits.