Forums Developing a Syllabus for Will to Adorn-based Courses — comments requested!

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    • #1953

      This is an example excerpted from a syllabus developed for students at Bowie State University. Please comment!

      SYLLABUS ANTH 405 Spring 2011
      Urban Anthropology Independent Study

      Instructor: Harold A. Anderson, Ph.D.
      Class Location: CLT 123 Tu Th 3.30PM – 4.50PM for the Spring 2011 semester.

      Anthropology 405 Urban Anthropology is an independent study course centered on ethnographic fieldwork and participant observation. This class is a joint undertaking with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage’s “The Will to Adorn” Project and in it we will be studying the way people dress and adorn themselves as well as other “cultural markers” that are visible performances of culture. This research, while it begins with African American style and dress as a “seed,” the research is ultimately focused on reflexive impacts and interactive construction of meaning in global contexts and among diverse cultural groups as they adopt and adapt elements of style and expression. Students will participate in the design and implementation of a fieldwork methodology that focuses on cultural markers and performances and seeks to answer the basic research question “How do people communicate through dress and style.”

      Students enrolled in this independent study will learn and apply ethnographic research methods with Dr. Harold Anderson and Dr. Diana N’Diaye of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Research will be undertaken on Bowie State campus, in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD areas and elsewhere. (See Will to Adorn Project Description.)

      There is no prescribed textbook for this course. However readings will be assigned during the course of the semester. These readings will be selected from various online academic and other sources to deal with the topic under discussion. Mastery of materials will be demonstrated by the student’s appropriate application of the readings in written work and by use of appropriate citation of sources.

      The 15 week semester will be divided into three blocks corresponding to research design/methodology (3-4 weeks), implementation/ fieldwork (6-7 weeks), and analysis and writing up (5 weeks).

      During the research design phase, students will participate in developing research methodologies including site selection, identification of “communities, artisans, exemplars, and vernaculars or vocabularies of style” and key people and research resources, defining terms, and in generating questions sets for the purpose of interviewing and analysis.

      During the implementation/fieldwork phase, students will alternate between classroom and field sessions. Participation in fieldwork is mandatory, however there will be some flexibility in scheduling so that students who are not able to attend every team session will have some opportunities to make up time in other appropriate research situations.

    • #1955

      One thing that we should develop together is a reading list/coursebook! Suggestions?

    • #1957

      I found the syllabus below online. Is it useful? There is also an article entitled “The World in Dress” that I will try to upload.


      Anthropology 269
      Fashion and Consumption
      Spring 2009
      Professor Ann Marie Leshkowich
      Beaven 230
      Office Hours: M 10-11, 3-4; W 1-2, 3-4; F 1-2, 3-4

      Course Description: Clothing is among the most visible and meaningful ways in which we express our identities. At the same time, our clothes are material items produced and consumed through an ever-expanding global fashion industry. This course will explore the various social, cultural, economic, political, and personal meanings associated with fashion and consumption. Combining anthropological and historical methods, we will focus on such questions as:
      What role does fashion play in the construction of identity?
      Why are fashion and consumption seen as feminine concerns?
      What role has clothing played in political and cultural resistance movements?
      How is clothing used to differentiate people, in both positive and negative ways?
      What are the historical origins of consumer societies?
      How has consumer capitalism become a global phenomenon? With what consequences?
      Readings will include social theory about fashion and consumption (Bourdieu, Barthes, and Veblen) and ethnographies focusing on such topics as veiling in France, Japanese haute couture, used clothing in Zambia, punks in Britain, and American feminists’ critiques of the fashion and beauty industry. Particular attention will be paid to the relationship between consumption of fashion and gender, race, and class.

      Learning Objectives
      Students completing this course exploring fashion and consumption from a sociocultural anthropological perspective will understand:
      1) The pitfalls of viewing diverse practices from a perspective that defines any one cultural worldview as the norm from which others are judged.
      2) Cultural and structural explanations of human behavior as distinct, in particular, from psychological or individualistic explanations.
      3) How we can understand broader economic, political, social, or cultural processes through detailed ethnographic field studies of individuals’ daily experiences.
      4) The social, economic, and political bases of hierarchies based on such factors as race, ethnicity, gender, and class.
      5) Ways in which all communities are enmeshed in processes of globalization, particularly those related to the production, circulation, and consumption of fashion.

      Class Meetings
      The class meets three times per week. Most weeks, two of these periods will be used for lectures, with the additional meeting devoted to viewing films or class discussion. Students will be expected to attend all class meetings (attendance will be taken) and to complete the readings as scheduled on the syllabus. Throughout the semester, students will write brief response papers (2-3 pages) on an assigned topic. These will serve as the basis for group discussion.

      Course Requirements
      Course grades will be based on written work and class participation, broken down as follows:
      1. Class Discussion and Participation (15%)
      This course takes an active approach to learning; your presence and participation in class are essential to your success! You are required to attend all class meetings, including lectures, films, and discussion sessions. Participation consists of being alert and taking notes during lectures, asking questions to clarify points of misunderstanding, engaging actively in small-group activities, and contributing meaningfully to classroom discussions. Because involvement in class activities is so important, more than two unexcused absences during the semester will result in the lowering of your participation grade by one-half of a percentage point for each additional class missed.
      2. Response papers (18%)
      In preparation for discussion sections, you will be asked to prepare short response papers on assigned topics. These papers require you to integrate what you have learned from lectures and readings, either by reflecting on them to develop your own insights or by evaluating their methods by completing your own ethnographic research exercise. Nine papers are assigned, and you must complete six. Three of the papers must be completed before the mid-term, and three afterwards. Each of the six assignments will be worth three points, for a total of 18% of your course grade. One extra paper can be completed, in which case the highest six grades will count as your total. Late papers will not be accepted. Papers are to be emailed to Prof. Leshkowich before class on the day indicated on the syllabus.
      3. Mid-term (20%)
      An in-class mid-term will be given on Wednesday, February 25. The mid-term will consist of identification of key terms and concepts from the first half of the class (readings, lectures, and films), and an essay question.
      4. Dress or Spending Diary and 3-5 page paper (12%)
      By looking at fashion and consumption around the world, this course asks you to evaluate your own dress and spending practices. To help you to do this, one of the requirements of this class is to maintain a dress or spending diary for two weeks during the semester. The format and content of the diary are described in greater detail on the Writing Assignments Handout. Your diary and a 3-5 page essay evaluating it in light of an author studied during the semester should be emailed to Prof. Leshkowich by 5pm on Tuesday, April 28.
      5. Final Exam (35%)
      Like the mid-term, the final exam will consist of essays and identification of key terms. There will be a total of two essays: one in response to a broad question synthesizing the major themes of the course and a second question focusing on the material covered after the mid-term. The final exam will be held on Tuesday, May 5 at 8:30 am.

      Academic Honesty
      In coming to Holy Cross, students and faculty have joined an intellectual community dedicated to learning together through the open exchange of ideas. For us to feel comfortable sharing our perspectives, we need to be confident that our ideas will be respected as our own. All of us share responsibility for creating an environment conducive to open exchange by holding to principles of trust, integrity, and honesty. Academic dishonesty, including plagiarism, fabrication, cheating, and collusion, violates these fundamental principles. As a student, you are responsible for reading and knowing the College Policy on Academic Honesty, as stated in the College Catalog (pages 12-14). As your professor, I am available to help you understand this policy and to guide you in following appropriate methods of research and citation.

      In response to a growing number of infractions of the college policy on academic honesty, all written work for this course will be archived. All response papers and the final dress/consumption diary project must be submitted in electronic form so that they may be permanently stored.

      This class adheres to a zero tolerance policy for academic dishonesty. Any work that, upon investigation, is found to violate the college policy will receive a grade of zero and a report will be submitted to the college administration. Further information about these procedures is contained in the College Catalog.

      Grade Calculation
      The mid-term, final exam, and course grade will be calculated according to a 100-point scale. The grading scale is as follows:
      A, 93 and above
      C+, 77-79.99
      A-, 90-92.99
      C, 73-76.99
      B+, 87-89.99
      C-, 70-72.99
      B, 83-86.99
      D+, 67-69.99
      B-, 80-82.99
      D, 60-66.99

      F, 59.99 and below

      Office Hours
      My office hours are listed at the top of this syllabus, and I encourage you to visit with me during the semester. I am available to discuss specific issues arising from the course, as well as to exchange more general insights and chat about experiences from your studies or my research.

      Course Website
      The website for this course is a center for important information: syllabus, lecture handouts, writing assignments, study guide questions, exam review materials, and announcements. Please check it frequently, and feel free to pass along suggestions for additional links and information that should be included. Also, check out my homepage at:

      Readings marked “article” on the syllabus are available through ERes. The password for the course is anth269. The following books are required for the course and can be purchased at the bookstore:
      Hebdige, Dick. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. Routledge, 1979. ISBN: 0415039495
      Hansen, Karen Tranberg. Salaula: The World of Secondhand Clothing and Zambia. Chicago, 2000. ISBN: 0226315819
      Tarlo, Emma. Clothing Matters. Chicago, 1996. ISBN: 0226789764
      Jacobs-Huey, Lanita. From the Kitchen to the Parlor: Language and Becoming in African American Women’s Hair Care. Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN13: 9780195304169
      Bowen, John. Why the French Don’t Like Headscarves. Princeton University Press, 2007. ISBN13: 978-0-691-13839-8

      Introduction: Fashion, Consumption, and Anthropology: From Evolution to Product(Red)
      While anthropology has long documented practices of dress and consumption, only in recent years have anthropologists come to focus on how the ways we dress reflect and shape aspects of our identities (e.g. class, gender, ethnicity, age, location, and personality), as well as global economic, political, and cultural developments. This first part of the course will introduce the concepts of fashion and consumption, provide a brief historical overview of how anthropology has examined them, and explore why both fashion and consumption have become central to current anthropological studies.
      January 14 (W): Linking Fashion, Consumption, and Culture
      January 16 (F): From Production to Consumption in Anthropology
      Read: Miller, “Consumption and Its Consequences” (article)
      Fiske, “Shopping for Pleasure: Malls, Power, and Resistance” (article)
      January 21 (W): The Rise and Fall of Evolution in Dress
      Read: Kroeber, “On the Principle of Order in Civilization as Exemplified by Changes of Fashion” (article)
      Cannon, “The Cultural and Historical Contexts of Fashion” (article)
      January 23 (F): Discussion
      January 26 (M): Compassionate Consumption? Considering Product(Red)
      Read: Sarna-Wojcicki, “Refigu(red): Talking Africa and Aids in ‘Causumer’ Culture” (article)
      Jungar and Salo, “Shop and Do Good?” (article)
      Anderson, “Shoppers of the World Unite: (RED)’s Messaging and Morality in the Fight against African AIDS” (article)
      January 28 (W): Discussion
      Writing Assignment #1 due by email to Prof. Leshkowich before class.

      Why Do We Want Things and What Do Things Mean? Three Approaches to Understanding Fashion and Consumer Society
      Adam Smith, credited as the founder of modern economics, claimed that human beings have an innate desire to acquire things so that we might earn the admiration of others. Anthropologists have tended to claim, on the contrary, that the desire to accumulate material possessions is socially and culturally created. How are desires for different types of material possessions created? Why do we want things? In this unit, we will explore three different explanations as to why more and more people around the world have come to live in consumer societies and how their consumption practices relate to culture and class. To ground our theoretical discussion, we will read ethnographies about punks in Britain and secondhand clothing in Zambia.
      January 30 (F): Thorstein Veblen and the Conspicuous Consumption of the the Leisure Class
      Read: Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class chap. 4-7, pp. 60-131 (article)
      February 2 (M): Discussion
      Writing Assignment #2 due by email to Prof. Leshkowich before class.
      February 4 (W): Barthes and the Semiotics of Consumption
      Read: Barthes, The Fashion System pp. 3-18 (article)
      Neich, “A Semiological Analysis of Self-Decoration in Mount Hagen, New Guinea” (article)
      February 6 (F): The Language of Subculture: The Case of Punk
      Read: Begin Hebdige, Subculture
      February 9 (M): Is Clothing a Language?
      Read: Continue Hebdige, Subculture
      February 11 (W): Movie: The Filth and the Fury
      Read: Finish Hebdige, Subculture
      McCracken, Culture and Consumption chap. 4, pp. 57-70 (article)
      February 13 (F): Discussion, to be supervised by Prof. Jennie Germann Molz
      Writing Assignment #3 due by email to Prof. Leshkowich before class.
      February 16 (M): Bourdieu on Cultural Capital, Guest lecture by Prof. Caroline Yezer
      Read: Bourdieu, 1-17, 177-225 (article)
      February 18 (W): Movie, T-Shirt Travels
      For more information on the film, see its website
      Read: Begin Hansen, Salaula: The World of Secondhand Clothing and Zambia
      February 20 (F): The Cultural Economy of Taste and Style: Secondhand Clothing in Zambia
      Read: Finish Hansen, Salaula
      February 23 (M): Discussion
      Writing Assignment #4 due by email to Prof. Leshkowich before class.
      February 25 (W): MID-TERM

      Case Study 1: Colonialism, Dress, and Identity in India
      It is no accident that the emergence of consumer societies in Europe and North America coincided with colonialism. Focusing on India, we will explore three questions: How and why did colonialism promote increased consumption in England? What role did dress play in colonialism? What has been the legacy of colonialism for fashion in India today?
      February 27 (F): Colonialism, Consumption, and Civilizing Fashion
      Read: Tarlo, Clothing Matters chap. 1-2, pp. 1-61
      March 2 (M) – March 6 (F): No class, Spring Vacation
      March 9 (M): Anti-colonial Dress
      Read: Tarlo, Clothing Matters chap. 3-4, pp. 62-128
      March 11 (W): Post-Colonial Dilemmas: What to Wear?
      Read: Tarlo, Clothing Matters chap. 5, 6, 8, pp. 129-201, 251-283
      March 13 (F): Discussion
      Writing Assignment #5 due by email to Prof. Leshkowich before class.

      Case Study 2: Race and Fashion: The Case of the “Japanese Invasion”
      In the 1980s, the international fashion press heralded the sudden emergence of Japanese designers as major players in the world of high fashion — an arena previously dominated by Paris, Milan, and New York. Does race matter in high fashion? How do race and gender intersect? Is ethnic difference simply another marketing ploy to sell a commodity?
      March 16 (M): Orientalism
      Read: Said, Orientalism, pp. 1-28
      March 18 (W): Commodifying Difference
      Read: Kondo, About Face, chap. 3 (“Orientalizing: Fashioning Japan”) and 5 (“Fabricating Masculinity: Gender, Race, and Nation in the Transnational Circuit”), pp. 55-99 and 157-186
      March 20 (F): Movie, A Notebook On Cities and Clothes
      March 23 (M): Discussion
      Writing Assignment #6 due by email to Prof. Leshkowich before class.

      Case Study 3: Gender, or “Why are Fashion and Consumption Seen as Female?”
      Picture in your mind someone shopping or reading a fashion magazine. Is the person you imagine a man or a woman? Most likely, you imagined a woman. In this unit, we will explore the cultural, social, and economic circumstances that have made both consumption and fashion associated with women and feminine concerns. Why is consumption seen as the domain of women? What are the links between gender, fashion, and beauty? Why are these practices gendered in this way? Are they universal? In the US, how is women’s fashion related to race and class? How have fashions and their gendered politics changed over time?
      March 25 (W): Gendered Consumption
      Read: Nava, “Women, the City and the Department Store” (article)
      Friedan, “The Sexual Sell” (article)
      Bordo, “Hunger as Ideology” (article)
      March 27 (F): Movie, Killing Us Softly
      March 30 (M): Can You Be Feminist and Fashionable? Can You Be Masculine and Care How You Look?
      Read: Wilson, “Feminism and Fashion” (article)
      Gladwell, “Listening to Khakis” (article)
      Campbell, “Shopping, Pleasure, and the Sex War” (article)
      April 1 (W): Discussion: Women, Men, and Fashion
      Read: Jacobs-Huey, From the Kitchen to the Parlor, introduction, chapters 1-3 (pp. 3-70)
      April 3 (F): The Cultural Politics of African American Women’s Hair
      Read: Jacobs-Huey, From the Kitchen to the Parlor, chapters 4-7 (pp. 71-148)
      April 6 (M): Discussion
      Writing Assignment #7 due by email to Prof. Leshkowich before class.

      Case Study 4: The Cultural Politics of Veiling in France and the US
      To many in North America and Western Europe, veiling makes a powerful fashion statement that signifies women’s subordination among the Islamic populations who practice it. If this is the case, why are many educated, modern women in North America and Western Europe choosing to wear the veil? Can veiling in fact be a form of resistance? If so, what is being resisted? Is the resistance successful?
      April 8 (W): The Multiple Meanings of Veiling
      Read: Bowen, Why the French Don’t Like Headscarves, chapters 1-4
      April 10 (F) – April 13 (M): No class, Easter Break
      April 15 (W): Veiling: Oppression, Resistance, Religion, and Culture in France and the US
      Read: Bowen, Why the French Don’t Like Headscarves, chapters 5-7
      Abu-Lughod, “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving?
      April 17 (F): Movie: Under One Sky: Arab Women in North America Talk about the Hijab
      Read: Finish Bowen, Why the French Don’t Like Headscarves, chapters 8-10
      April 20 (M): Discussion
      Writing Assignment #8 due by email to Prof. Leshkowich before class.

      Case Study 5: Globalization and Dress Meanings
      With more and more people, goods, and ideas circulating around the world, we are witnessing two somewhat contradictory fashion trends. First, people around the world are wearing so-called Western clothes. Second, many consumers have greater opportunity to appreciate different fashions and see the spread of the global marketplace as a chance to consume diversity, and so-called “ethnic clothing” is more popular than ever before. How can we make sense of these developments? What economic and social relationships does globalization promote? Focusing on the production and consumption of dress in Asia and our own daily choices about what to wear, we will explore the impact of globalization on different types of people and societies.
      April 22 (W): The Globalization of Fashion
      Read: Tarlo, Clothing Matters, chapter 9, 284-317
      Leshkowich and Jones, “What Happens When Asian Chic Becomes Chic in Asia?” (article)
      Woodward, Why Women Wear What They Wear, chapter 4 (article)
      April 24 (F): Discussion
      Writing Assignment #9 due by email to Prof. Leshkowich before class.

      Conclusion: Alternatives to Consumer Society
      While globalization may have different impacts on different people and places, one thing seems certain: more and more societies are becoming “consumer societies.” What are the benefits and disadvantages to consumer societies (culturally, economically, socially, environmentally)? What are the alternatives? Are they desirable?
      April 27 (M): The Debate about Consumer Society
      Read: Twitchell, “Two Cheers for Materialism” (article)
      Schor, “The Downshifter Next Door” and “Learning Diderot’s Lesson” (article)

      Diary and 3-5 page paper due on Tuesday, April 28 by 5pm by email t…

      Tuesday, May 5 at 8:30am: FINAL EXAM

    • #1959

      Here is the World in Dress article from Annual Reviews in Anthropology.



    • #1965

      I have a few articles that might serve as interesting background reading. (Would it be okay to reproduce articles from JSTOR or Project MUSE here as *.PDF files?)

      As for books…

      I think Ayana Byrd’s Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America is worthy of recommendation. It provides a great overview, although it’s mostly from a historical perspective (all the way from the 1400s to the early 2000s), and it’s an engaging read.

      Men of Color: Fashion, History, Fundamentals by Lloyd Boston identifies a number of male exemplars of style. It looks like (and is) a high fashion coffee table volume, but the text and photographs actually a surprisingly in depth look at the self-expression of African American men through dress over the past century.

      I’d also suggest Stylin’: African American Expressive Culture, from its Beginnings to the Zoot Suit and Black Style (Carol Tulloch). In my list of books to read is Dress, Gender and Cultural Change: Asian American and African American Rites of Passage.

      Dr. Harold Anderson said:
      One thing that we should develop together is a reading list/coursebook! Suggestions?

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