Anthro of African Dress
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Level: Undergraduate
Division: Parsons The New School for Design
School: School of Art and Design History and Theory
Department: Art and Design History
Course Number: PLFS 3013
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Anthropology
  • Fashion Design History, Theory & Criticism
  • Media Studies
How is dress significant to the understanding of social life? In what ways do we use dress to mark difference, negotiate multiple identities, express ourselves, reveal, conceal, represent our beliefs or politics, or subvert or endorse existing orders? Focusing on African dress, we examine the relationship of dress to culture and the social order. We explore evolving forms of dress, the relationship between personal choice and the influence of social factors, such as popular culture, consumption, or globalization. Guided by studies from anthropology, media representations, fashion studies and other observations of dress forms, we critically analyze trends, the development of style and taste, the politics of choice, and questions of cultural authenticity. We use aesthetic and ethnographic examples to examine dress in African societies, and apply these approaches to course projects. Students assess their own dress styles, learn to critique representations of dress, and conduct independent ethnographic studies of dress.
Course Open to: Degree Students
Course Pre/Co-requisites:
Open to: All university undergraduate degree students. Pre-requisites: first-year university writing course and at least one prior history or methods course in art, media, film, or visual culture.


Open to Undergraduate students.