Communication and Culture | Current Topics in Communication and Culture (Topic: The Politics of Style)
C334 | 15288 | Kaplan, M.

MW, 11:15 AM-12:30 PM, TE F260

Carries COLL Intensive Writing Credit
Note: CMCL-C 334 can be taken twice for credit when the topic varies.

Instructor: Michael Kaplan
Office: Mottier Hall 209
Phone: 856-1365

We are always told not to judge a book by its cover, but that is
exactly what the covers are for. That’s because surfaces always
communicate.  For example, everyone wears clothing and reacts,
sometimes quite strongly, to the ways others dress. Most people
frequently reflect on the meanings and purposes of dress by reading
fashion advice, watching TV programs about style, carefully
imitating (usually famous) others, perusing catalogs, shopping for
special and everyday occasions, and so on. Consequently, most of us
tacitly or openly acknowledge the importance of communicating
through our clothes and know how to do so more or less skillfully.
Indeed, this is one of our most common and purposive forms of
communication—a rhetoric of the everyday. Our challenge will be to
try to think “behind” our “how-to” expertise to the rules that
govern it, the purposes these rules serve, and the effects—direct
and indirect, personal and social, political and economic,
repressive and expressive, manageable and unruly, etc.—they
generate. The idea is not to learn theories or facts about fashion
so much as to consult some of them for clues about worthwhile
questions to ask. Questions—problems, ambiguities, puzzles,
contradictions, tensions, etc.—are the heartbeat of the course.