Fat Studies and Visual Culture
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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: PLVS 4011
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
This course provides an introduction to the emerging academic field of Fat Studies through the lens of visual culture. We will explore how competing and often contradictory cultural, social, and political forces inform conceptions of fatness and “obesity,” as well as the manifestation of these constructions within design and mass media. Through interdisciplinary readings and guest lectures, as well as visual case studies from journalism and advertising, contemporary art, and the music and fashion industries, the class will examine fatness as a social construction that constantly intersects with conceptions of gender, race, ability, age, and class. The course will also examine fat stigma in relation to identity and (in)visibility, and varied attempts to overcome this stigma in “fat liberation” advertising (ex. Dove), “fatshion” blogging, and the work of independent “fatshion” designers. Finally, this course will introduce students to the diverse work of activists who advocate other models of health, beauty, and self-definition, ultimately underscoring how the definition of non-normative bodies affects the understanding of all bodies. This course counts toward the Gender Studies minor.
Course Open to: Degree Students
Course Pre/Co-requisites:
Open to: All university undergraduate degree students. Pre-requisite(s): first-year university writing course and at least two prior history or methods course in art, media, film, or visual culture. This course counts toward the Gender Studies minor. One of these courses should be 3000-level. Some seats are reserved in this course.


Open to Undergraduate students.