Clothing and Conformity

From school uniforms to sagged pants to zoot suits to leggings and burka bans, this course explores the central question of to what degree any group or individual should dictate (either by policy or a subtler coercion) the dress of any other group or individual, and to what extent we self-police appearance in order to encourage or enforce conformity. Students will identify and examine the factors (cultural, economic, geographic, political, religious, tribal, familial, and personal) that contribute to daily clothing decisions and communication of identity, examine evidence in contemporary and historic media of pressure to conform, and analyze its contributing factors. The course will require reading, viewing, and engaged discussion participation, and will develop students’ ability to research and present cogent, informed points of view both verbally and in writing.

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