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ARTHIST 2R03 History of Fashion & Identity (C01)

Academic Year: Fall 2018

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Angela Sheng


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 425

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23156


Office Hours: Wednesdays, 1:30- 2:30 pm or by appointment

Course Objectives:

This course will study selected aspects of the history of fashion and identity throughout the ages and across cultures. The course will examine issues related to changes in dress and their representation as well as the construction of identities in the broader social, political and economic context. This course will aim to assist students to contextualize their own expressions of identities in a broader historical and cultural context. The course will also allow students to gain confidence in writing and making presentations.

By the end of the course, students should have acquired skills to interpret dress, costumes, and fashion in broader cultural contexts, provided they also research the pertinent cultural history.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Riello, Giorgio and Peter McNeil (eds.). The Fashion History Reader: Global Perspectives.

Paperback: 9780415493246

Welters, Linda and Abby Lillethun. 2018. Fashion History: a Global View. London: Bloomsbury. [e-book] 9781474253659

Additional required readings will be available on reserve at Mills Library or accessed online through JSTOR.

Method of Assessment:

NOTE: students will have received at least 10% of the grade by November 9th, 2018.

  1. A short essay, details in first class, due September 11, 10%
  2. A write-up and a presentation on the contemporary fashion designer Iris Van Herpen exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum , both due September 25/26, 20%
  3. In-class quiz on November 6, 10%
  4. A write-up and a presentation on a comparison of western and non-western fashion, both due November 27/28, 20%
  5. Final, to be scheduled, 30%
  6. To get A+ requires correct spelling and grammar on all written work.


    Grading Scale:


    A+ 90-100 B+  77-79        C+  67-69        D+       57-59

    A   85-89   B    73-76         C    63-66        D         53-56

    A-  80-84   B-   70-72        C-   60-62       D-       50-52

                                                                       F           0-49

    All written work is to be typed in font-size 12, double-spaced with a header that includes the student’s family name, number, and pagination.

    For all citations in the written reports, please consult Chicago Manual of Style

    Mills ONLINE Z253 .C53

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

No extensions without a timely medical certificate.

Late penalties: up to 1 week, 20% of the assignment’s grade; not accepted after that except for extraordinary reasons with proof.


Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

September 4, 5, & 7    Introduction, definitions, scope

Students sign up for group presentations

Fashion History, chapters 1 and 2

Fashion History Reader, Introduction

September 11, 12 & 14           Fashion Systems and How We Got Here

Fashion History, chapters 3 and 4

Fashion History Reader, chapter 22

September 18, 19 & 21           ROM Trip and self-study

Visit the Iris Van Herpen exhibit at the ROM, write up and be ready to present and discuss on September 25/26, details in class.

September 25, 26 & 28           Presentations. The Body in History

Body worlds and their history: some working concepts—to be scanned and uploaded onto Avenue.

October 2, 3 & 5         The Body and Clothing Construction

Cut My Cote—to be scanned and uploaded onto Avenue.

Fashion History Reader, Chapter 3

[October 8: RECESS, NO CLASS]

October 16, 17 &19    Dress in Canada

Palmer, Alexandra. 2004. Fashion: a Canadian Perspective—e-book through Mills.

Fashion History, chapter 5

Wearing Our Identity: The First Peoples Collection at the McCord Museum

Catalogue purchase requested, will be on reserve at Mills.

October 23, 24 & 26   Dress in One Ancient World

Fashion History, chapter 6

Selected readings from Ariadne’s Threads, on reserve at Mills—details on Avenue.

October 30, 31 & November 2           Dress in the East

Fashion History, chapter 7

Fashion History Reader, chapters 16, 23

November 6, 7 & 9     Dress in Early Modern Europe and Alternative Fashion

In-class quiz on Nov. 6

Fashion History, chapter 8

Fashion History Reader, Part 2

November 13, 14 & 16           Change in Consumers

Fashion History Reader, Part 3

November 27, 28 & 30 Presentations. Fashion and Masculinity

Fashion History Reader, chapter 13

December 4, 5             Global Fashion. Conclusion

Fashion History, chapter 9


Other Course Information:

Barthes, Roland. 2006. Transl. from French by Andy Stafford. The Language of Fashion. Oxford.GT511.B363 2006.

Burnham, Dorothy K. 1992. To Please the Caribou: painted caribou skin coats worn by the Naskapi, Montagnais, and Cree hunters of the Quebec-Labrador peninsula. Royal Ontario Museum. E 78 .Q3 B87 1992B

Granata, Francesca. 2017. Experimental Fashion: performance art, carnival and the grotesque body. I. B. Taurus. GT523.G73 2017.

Groom, Gloria (ed.). 2012. Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity. Chicago: Art Institute.

N 6847.5 .I4 I47 2012

Hill, Margot H. and Peter Bucknell. 2004. The evolution of fashion : pattern and cut from 1066 to 1930.

GT 510 .H57 2004

Negrin, Llewellyn. 2008. Appearance and Identity: fashioning the body in postmodernity. Palgrave Macmillan. Gt521.N44 2008 [PURCHASE REQUESTED].

Steele, Valerie. 1996. Fetish: fashion, sex and power. Oxford University Press.

GT 511 .S84 1996

Please note that the readings might change according to students’ progress in the course.


There are no tutors for this course. Depending on the progress of the course, the three classes per week are not always two lectures and one tutorial. It will be announced in class when students can be asked to contribute to the discussion at any time. Students will also have opportunities to discuss topics in small groups and then present to the whole class.

Attendance is mandatory. While students can read easily texts on their own, they may not necessarily see what they need to see when looking at visual imagery. How to see is covered in class, and cannot be substituted.

Again, depending on the progress of the class, topics and dates are subject to change and if so, the changes will be announced in class and on Avenue to Learn. Students are encouraged to contact the instructor as soon as they feel there is a problem with regard to understanding the material and working on the assignments.