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Passing: Fashion in American Cities

The idea of ‘passing’ and the issues it raises in relation to contemporary and historical notions of self-fashioning and identities is of central importance in a period of political, social and cultural upheaval.  The notion of passing also speaks to current discrimination and civil rights issues, and this conference seeks to examine the ways dress has been used to ‘pass’, to negotiate, resist and refuse contemporary prejudice, discrimination and status and beauty ideals.  We aim to explore dress, the body and the idea of ‘becoming’ – in relation to gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and class, with the city as a key locus for attempts to outwit social and cultural mores through the artful deployment of dress.

We welcome proposals that discuss actual dress, as well as its visual representation, with focus on the Americas as a diverse geographical zone in which growing urban centres and mass immigration have hot-housed conformity and, in turn, its resistance.

The conference seeks to highlight and interrogate this important aspect of urban self-fashioning to understand its place within dress practices and visual culture, and to develop analysis of its place within American social life.

Submission process: Please submit abstracts of 150-200 words in English, along with a short biography of approximately 100 words to passingconference@gmail.com by 29 September 2017.

Organised by Rebecca Arnold, Senior Lecturer in History of Dress & Textiles and David Peters Corbett, Professor of American Art, Director, Centre for American Art.