English | Projects in Reading & Writing: Marketing Gender
W170 | 7146 | Yaggi

TOPIC:		Marketing Gender: Fashion, Magazines, & Makeovers
INSTRUCTOR:	Miranda Yaggi

7146		TR		9:30A - 10:45A	ED 1250

In 1929, Virginia Woolf cynically noted: "Speaking crudely, football
and sport are 'important'; the worship of fashion, the buying of
clothes "trivial." In this course we will question just
how "trivial" such traditionally - although not necessarily - women-
centered topics are to cultural representations of gender and
sexuality. Considering how steadily the fashion magazine trade has
grown in the last 300 years and considering the recent explosion of
fashion-conscious and body-conscious men's magazines, not to mention
the barrage of reality makeover shows like Queer Eye for the
Straight Guy and What Not to Wear, we have to wonder: how do these
formats, which were once upon a time pitched almost exclusively to
women, inform and create our definitions of gender and sexuality?
How do these advocates for fashion and appearance offer themselves
as gender blueprints and to what extent do we take them seriously as
In this course we will explore how the high-end culture of fashion
has begun to inundate and saturate the middle-class with its
conflicted and compelling representations of gender and sexuality
through an endlessly expanding network of magazines, makeover shows,
runway competitions, sitcoms, and dramas. We will pay particular
attention to the ways in which consumer practices (from the fashions
featured in Seventeen Magazine and Gossip Girl to the Cover Girl
sponsorship of America's Next Top Model) are becoming increasingly
explicit driving forces in not only popular forms of entertainment
but also our cultural consensus about how bodies, genders, and
sexualities should look and behave. This is primarily a writing
course that builds sequentially on students' ability to read texts
closely and critically. In addition to primary texts - such as
fashion magazines and television shows from Project Runway to Queer
Eye - we will also engage the larger critical conversations
surrounding gender and sexuality through the work of critics and