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In her image: the documentation of the Neue Frau in German Weimar-era lesbian magazines

I came across these magazines when researching the topic of my most recent written assessment. By now, I have carried an intense fascination with the sexual socio-political climate of the Weimar Republic for a couple of years. On the course ‘Reassembling Modernism: Artists’ Networks in Europe 1909-1960’ as an undergraduate, I was introduced to Weimar culture when we examined the Neue Frau in the Berlin of the 1920s. It was a text by Maria Makela entitled ‘New women, new men, new objectivity’, however, that truly peaked my interest in the subject. 

‘The Latest Acquisition of the Masculine Woman – the Tuxedo’, Das Magazin, August 1926, addition to image made by the author

This year, I revisited the Neue Frau and explored her myth and ideological potential whilst considering her as a phenomenon of cosmopolitanism—in relation to class, gender and violence in the city. Makela’s essay was my starting point, and these magazines gave me an example of how the Neue Frau’s multi-faceted identity was utilised to develop a progressive symbol of gender subversion. The Neue Frau/neue frauen is the German adaptation of the New Woman. The New Woman was a female figure, a new gender type, who emerged in modern society towards the end of the nineteenth century, becoming a popularised construct in the first half of the twentieth century. 

‘What do you say about Fräulein Mia?’, Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, November 1927, additions to image made by the author

The Neue Frau was a fashionable woman who adopted traditionally heteronormative, ‘masculine’ traits within her dress identity to disassociate herself from the pre-WWI woman. Her image epitomised modern femininity, but it also effectively mirrored how interwar Germany perceived itself to be under cultural threat from the masculinisation of a ‘New’ generation of emancipated women. In the pages of queer publications, however, the Neue Frau’s image was represented without ridicule or cynicism. It was interesting to reconfigure my own perception of her image after months of aligning it with the caricatured parody that male, Neue Sachlichkeit artists had painted her to be.

Otto Dix, Portrait of the journalist Sylvia von Harden, 1926, oil and tempera on wood: 47¼ x 31½ in (120 × 80 cm), additions to image made by the author

In the case of the women depicted in Liebende Frauen (1927-1930), the tensions felt nationwide between opposing genders are made redundant. At the time of the1929/30 issue, Liebende Frauen was one of two lesbian magazines in Berlin; the other, the more widely-known Die Freundin (The Girlfriend: Journal for Ideal Friendship between Women) had been in circulation since 1924. Art historian Heike Schader notes that Liebende Frauen is most likely a reprint of the magazine Frauenliebe (Women Love); which in turn was renamed Garçonne in 1930.

Liebende Frauen: Wochenschrift des ‘Deutschen Freundschafts-Verbandes’ Vol. 4, no.13, (1929), Berlin, Spinnboden—Lesbenarchiv und Bibliothek, Berlin, additions to image made by the author

In the above image, a cover dated 1929, the female subject sports a bubikopf—a haircut strongly associated with the Neue Frau, which translates directly to ‘boy’s head’ and was reconfigured into numerous variations, such as the shortened and smoothed ‘Eton crop’, similar to that of Louise Brooks’ Lulu in Pandora’s Box. The overlapping strings of pearl necklaces that decorate her neck, the draped cut of her neckline and way in which her face is coquettishly turned from the camera’s gaze tells the reader that this Neue Frau, like Brooks’ Lulu—will not apologise for claiming her own sexuality. This cover presents allure and a conscious play on the provocation of desires, celebrating the figure of the New Woman by virtue of her dress and demeanour.

These covers are truly wonderful examples of how the New Woman, specifically the homosexual New Woman, found alternative means of how her image could be disseminated in popular culture via ways less damaging to her personhood. Each cover is a portal into an important history for women, and they each contribute to the Neue Frau as a social construct: one that was repeatedly well-documented until the Weimar Republic’s fall.  

To see more of these wonderful covers, go to the Spinnboden Lesbenarchiv und Bibliothek, Berlin’s online archives: www.meta-katalog.eu 

Additionally, there are lots of many interesting texts covering the Neue Frau’s image, such as: 

  • Women in the Metropolis: Gender and Modernity in Weimar Culture by Katherina von Ankum 
  • Women in German History: From Bourgeois Emancipation to Sexual Liberation by Ute Frevert
  • Women in Weimar Fashion: Discourses in German Culture, 1918-1933 by Mila Ganeva 
  • The New Woman International by Elizabeth Otto and Vanessa Rocco
  • Visions of the “Neue Frau”: Women and the Visual Arts in Weimar Germany by Marsha Meskimmon
  • The Masculine Woman in Weimar Germany by Katie Sutton 

Sources
Maria Makela, “New Women, New Men, New Objectivity” in New Objectivity: Modern German Art in the Weimar Republic 1919-1933
Heike Schader, ‘Liebende Frauen’
Katie Sutton, ‘The Masculinisation of Woman’ in The Masculine Woman in Weimar Germany

Festive Fantasies

This is not a joke: last year, I made a Keynote presentation of things I wanted for the holidays. It was called ‘Lacey’s presentation-chic 22nd Christmas-cum-23rd birthday vision board’. It culminated with a a request for balloons, and I made it entirely for the pleasure of creating it—and presenting it to my mom.  

St. Vincent said something about how seduction occurs when the invitation to the party is actually better than the party. This is true about so many things, including the holidays. Who cares about one day when you get the build up of a month’s worth—at least!—of lights, fir trees, wreaths and baubles, roasted chestnuts, the Grinch and Charlie Brown music?  

I realise this isn’t universal. (For example, talking to my friend in Paris the other week, I learned that, despite having gone to college in New York and having two small children, she had never seen How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I quickly remedied that by showing her the best Christmas song  in American history.) But bear with me. I think we can all relate to the thrill of anticipation, a thrill that overshadows whatever it is that it’s building towards. There’s such unattached delight in knowing that state of affairs from the onset. 

This year for the holidays, we have turned to the timeless wish list—dress-related, of course! I had such fun reading about everyone’s desired objects, whether they be fantastic or grounded in reality, and hope you do as well. 

Happy holidays from the Class of 2018-2019!

Daisy

Not coming from a Fashion or Art History background, the first time I saw Cristóbal Balenciaga’s work was at the V&A Shaping Fashion exhibition earlier this year. I absolutely fell in love with the vivid green colour and incredibly bold design of this dress. It is probably completely impractical and I have absolutely nowhere to wear it but I love it and I just want to have it so I can stare at it!

Installation view of V&A Balenciaga Shaping Fashion exhibition showing evening dress and cape, silk gazar, Cristóbal Balenciaga. Credit: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/style/balenciaga-va-7-reasons-should-see-fashion-exhibition-year/

For some reason I was watching the ‘Never Forget You’ (The Noisettes) video a few weeks ago and I thought Shingai Shoniwa’s punk-esque outfit was amazing, particularly the silver docs. My go to outfit for a night-out is a sequin dress with black patent docs but I would love to upgrade to a sequin dress with silver docs!


Ellen

My dream present is this Giambattista Valli autumn/ winter 2015 haute couture skirt. I love this because of the bright ombré colour and the exaggerated size and volume of the skirt. I can only imagine how it would feel to wear this, and I love that it has next to no practicality. In essence, this fulfils my childhood dreams of a bona fide princess skirt.

I am ashamed to admit that I’ve avoided getting a sight test for 2 years and, furthermore, have had the same glasses for four years… So, I have decided to get a new pair. I love the idea of clear frames, but these are slightly tinted a blush pink. I wear my glasses all the time (I’m lazy and haven’t sorted contact lenses), so I aim for a mixture of something practical but also stylish.


Fran

So, the gift on my list that will never arrive (boo Saint Nick, you bore) is a Christopher Kane AW18 crystal-embellished black, twill blazer. I would dress this bejewelled number up with a black tailored flare-trouser and a classic Chanel-red lip. Maybe even a pair of huge, over-sized Oscar de la Renta crystal earrings—though that could be overkill. OR be a little less theatrical and wear it with pair of classic Hedi Slimane Saint Laurent leather trousers (maybe AW15?—I am still very much in the realm of fantasy here, in case you were confused.) Running with this theme, I would paint my face with some YSL Rouge Pur Couture in Fuschia Innocent and a dash of jet-black mascara (and most likely a splattering of glitter). 

I am desperate to sit by a log fire with an amaretto-infused mulled wine and read Emily Spivack’s Worn in New York: 68 Sartorial Memoirs of the City (2017).

Another (less dress/fashion themed) publication I am very interested in is Sarah McBride’s Tomorrow Will Be Different (2018). I listen to an amazing podcast called How to be a Girl by Marlo Mack, and the last episode (Episode XXVI, 6 November 2018) was dedicated to McBride’s inspirational career; she is an amazingly strong woman. Also, listen to this podcast NOW—it’s a whole thing.


Imogene

I would want a front row ticket to a Chanel Haute Couture fashion show… that would be a fantasy in itself.

Left: Chanel Haute Couture Show Spring 2017
Right: Helmut Newton photo of Yves Saint Laurent’s ‘Le Smoking’, ‘Rue Aubriot, Paris, 1975’, 1975, French Vogue

For my more realistic gift, I’d like to have an enlarged photograph of an iconic fashion image – a Helmut Newton photograph or a photograph of a Grace Coddington fashion editorial.


Jeordy

In the alternate reality where I have rich friends and family and have fashioned myself after Eartha Kitt, the ‘Victoire’ Clutch with Shell from Rocio (or literally any of their other clutches) would be on my wish-list.

Acacia and shell ‘Victoire’ clutch by Rocio. Photo taken from the author

Each stunning, limited-edition bag is handmade in the Philippines using native acacia wood. This clutch is acacia and shell, and features an 18k gold chain and clasp, and faux suede lining. It would look simply marvellous with a silk or velvet evening gown, don’t you think? It is available at Fortum and Masons, if anyone wants to be my Santa Baby this year!

Even realistically, buying clothes for your loved ones for Christmas is risky business, especially when they (I) wear mostly vintage clothing. For this reason, this year I have my eye on the novel and extraordinary bespoke creations at The Emperor’s Old Clothes, a vintage and one-of-a-kind clothing boutique in Brighton.

Cropped jacket and miniskirt sets from The Emperor’s Old Clothes. Photo courtesy of Instagram

Their unique sets—either a pencil or circle skirt and crop-top, or cropped jacket and miniskirt— are handmade with vintage fabrics, making them especially one-of-a-kind. The Emperor’s Old Clothes’ all-female team are paid a living wage, making their products ethical on top of being environmentally friendly and unique, all of my criteria for a great gift.

Top and skirt sets from The Emperor’s Old Clothes. Photo courtesy of Instagram


Lacey

It’s not just that I want this dress: it’s that I want a reason to have this dress. If I were to dress up like the Sugar Plum Fairy, you better believe I’d have the social connections and sparkly evening plans to go with it. I’m already worried about how to get my hair to behave…

Lately, my friends and I have talked about having patrons and sponsors—people to magically offer us jobs and provide goods like above. Until that happens, I ran out of my Atelier Cologne clementine perfume last year and am dying for more…


Lily

My fantasy present is the gown worn by Deborah Kerr during the ‘Shall We Dance?’ number in The King and I. It’s been a favourite film costume since I was a toddler!

For now, I’ll settle for another ear piercing. My face is full so it’s time to get back to work on the ears…


Marielle

I dream of an opportunity to wear this Yohji Yamamoto gown I saw at the Fashion and Lace Museum in Brussels, and of an occasion to wear it!

Photo by the author

But I could more realistically swing a skirt with reversible sequins, a trend I love for this year, and perfect for a holiday party (or any other day)!

Photo courtesy of Instagram

MA Documenting Fashion 2017-18 Farewell

Just like that our MA has flown by and the Documenting Fashion group of 2017-18 graduates with our Masters in the History of Art on Monday! Documenting Fashion blog co-runners Olivia and I wanted to say goodbye and thank you for following along! As we reflect on this wonderful year, we’re sharing some behind-the-scenes photos and our favorite memories. Below are some lists I’ve compiled from the group reminiscing about moments from our time in class, our trips, and of course, our best food moments.

Niall and Arielle admire Rebecca’s Kim Kardashian Selfie book

In class:

  • Viewing the Courtauld’s collection of fashion magazines such as the Gazette du Bon Ton
  •  Rebecca’s seminar on Vionnet and the big reveal of her favorite Vionnet dress
  •  Book time! – For each seminar Rebecca would collect books from her impressive collection which pertained to that weeks topic. It was endlessly exciting and I think we all have book wish-lists a mile long now
  • Dr. Adrian Garvey’s guest lecture on film and World War II
  • Our seminar on Gordon Parks
  • last but certainly not least, when we were fortunate to have been visited by our favorite dachshund, Koda

The group with Beatrice Behlen at The Museum of London

Nelleke at the Posturing exhibit

Field trips:

  • Our first visit to the Courtauld’s own prints and drawing collection
  • V&A Blythe house where we got to see some show-stoppers
  • Our multiple visits to the Museum of London – especially when we considered dress and biography
  • Visiting Autograph APB
  • The Mod New York exhibition in NYC where we collectively marveled at the beautiful exhibition design and danced to the groovy playlist

Spotted: Destinee, Olivia, Niall, and Grace on the steps of the Met in NYC – xoxo Documenting Fashion

Food:

  • Our weekly after seminar lunches in the Coutauld cafe
  • Tutorials at Federation Coffee in Brixton
  • When Evie brought us to Fish n Chips in Camberwell
  • Our lunch at by Chloe during dissertation work

 

For me, the best part of this year has been the friendship I’ve found in my Documenting Fashion classmates. As you can tell from our posts, we all approach dress differently but we are also extremely supportive and encouraging of each other’s thoughts and work. Our personalities meshed together so well since day one and we have had such fun together while also pushing each other to think differently, and ultimately, be better art historians. I am truly thankful to have gone through this experience with such a lovely group of people.

Thank you for reading. We are so looking forward to what the next MA Documenting Fashion group creates for you starting in September.

Abby Fogle

Live Podcast Recording: What Do We Want From Fashion Writing And Imagery Now?

Please join us Friday 29 June, 2018 at the Courtauld Institute of Art 10:30am-12:00pm for a live recording of The Conversations with Jason Campbell & Henrietta Gallina podcast, open to all free admission

Speakers include

  • Jason Campbell – journalist, personal stylist and forecaster
  • Henrietta Gallina – creative strategist

Organised by

  • Dr Rebecca Arnold – The Courtauld Institute of Art

Writers and critics represent a shrinking talent pool in the fashion industry, meanwhile fashion imagery has become a staple in our daily social media digest. With that, how we document fashion is shifting in an unprecedented way, so we will discuss how these changes are manifesting and put forward the question of what is needed and wanted today.  Join us for a live recording, with Q&A.

The Conversations With Jason Campbell & Henrietta Gallina is a weekly podcast hosted by two fashion professionals and enthusiasts. For years, Henrietta and Jason found that the conversations they were having about the fashion industry and culture were not ones being had in mainstream arenas, so in the summer of 2017, they decided document their ongoing discussions via their podcast which can be found on iTunes, Podbean and Stitcher.

Jason Campbell is a 25-year veteran of the fashion industry working as a journalist, personal stylist and forecaster. From 2002-2012, Jason published the seminal newsletter JC Report, covering trends, talents and movements from across the globe. In his role as consultant, brands such as the NFL, American Express Centurion, and Limited Brands depend on his fashion wisdom to inform their strategic marketing. Jason has also been a contributing writer to Style.com, New York Times Magazine and Surface Magazine.

Henrietta has over 12 years of experience working with a multitude of fashion, lifestyle and corporate companies across brand, creative and digital strategy and storytelling. Having worked with notable companies as Fred Perry, Topshop, Shinola, COS, Karla Otto, Nike, Parley For The Oceans, Universal Standard and many more, her focus is overall brand and cultural relevancy via bespoke strategic thinking, creative vision, content and special projects.

Dissertation Discussion: Niall

 

What is the working title of your dissertation?

The Dancing Faun: Constructing the Queer Body in the Works of Vaslav Nijinsky

What led you to choose this subject?

I started reading Nijinsky’s diaries earlier in the year and absolutely fell in love with a man who truly was a victim of his time. You can feel the anxiety and unease surrounding his homosexuality through the page and this was something that I strongly identified with. I therefore thought it might be interesting to consider how his queerness was actualised within his performances and choreographic style.

Favorite book/article you’ve read for your dissertation so far and why?

Nijinksy’s diary.

Favorite image/object in your dissertation and why?

My favourite performance of Nijinsky was his work in L’Après Midi D’un Faune which he both performed and choreographed himself. As this work was his choreographic debut, it really showcased all of his ideas surrounding dance technique that was evidently distinct from the previous styles of the Ballet Russes.

Favorite place to work?

Where all the action happens: My bedroom 😉

Dissertation Discussion: Destinee

What is the working title of your dissertation? 

Readdressing Passivity in 1960’s Civil Rights Photographs through Dress

What led you to choose this subject?

I was inspired to write about the idea of protest wear in relation to the black body after seeing the King in New York exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York. I became quite fascinated by the idea of protest buttons after seeing Benedict J. Fernandez’s Photograph from a Memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. in Central Park from April 5, 1968 on view. There is exhaustive scholarship on the Civil Rights Movement and for that reason my main objective in my dissertation was to find a new angle of viewing civil rights photographs that was not reductive or contrived. Reading civil rights photographs through dress and both individual and collective dress practice in moments of protest proved to be an interesting way of critiquing the reading of the black body as being passive or docile in the face of white-aggressive as reading it as an active embodiment of resistance.

Ivan Massar, Doris Wilson on the Selma to Montgomery March, Alabama, 1965, Gelatin silver print, Image/plat: 13 1⁄2 x 8 1⁄2 inches, copyright Ivan Massar, Access: https://prod.high.org/collections/doris-wilson-on-the-selma-to- montgomery-march-alabama/

Favorite book/article you’ve read for your dissertation so far and why?

My favorite book that I have read for my dissertation has been bell hook’s Black Looks: Race and Representation (1992). The way in which hooks deconstructs and provides alternative ways of viewing blackness really helped push me to look at the images used in my dissertation in different ways. My second favorite read would have to be Sharon Sliwinki’s Dreaming in Dark Times: Six Exercises in Political Thought (2017) because I thought it was so interesting how she aligned dreaming and more specifically dream-work as a radical political action that could be situated within the context of the social sphere.

Favorite image/object in your dissertation and why?

My favorite image I wrote about is a photograph of the Washington Monument and part of the United States flag reflected in sunglasses of a young boy called Austin Clinton Brown from the March on Washington in August of 1963. I think the image is quite powerful in that it addresses the idea that the American dream is an illusion in the way that these symbols of American freedom are distorted and warped on the reflective surface of the young boy’s sunglasses.

Washington Monument and part of the U.S. flag reflected in sunglasses of Austin Clinton Brown, 9, of Gainesville, GA, March on Washington, August 28th 1963
Access: https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/national-international/NATL-The-1963-March-on-Washington-in- Photos-219401841.htm

Favorite place to work?

Hands down, my favorite place to work is the Gallery Café in Bethnal Green. It is a vegetarian and vegan café with both indoor and outdoor seating with lots of natural light and great music. I have spent many days work there and they have the most delicious “loaded” vegan chili fries.

Dissertation Discussion: Abby

 

What is the working title of your dissertation?

I’m trying to come up with something more creative but right now it is: “More Than a Backdrop: Fine Art in the Fashion Magazine 1930s-1950s”

What led you to choose this subject?

Well literally all of my academic research has investigated the intersection between art and fashion in some way so continuing to look at this relationship was a given. I wrote one of my previous MA essays on the fashion magazine as a designed object so I also wanted to build on that research. I love the way image, text and layout work together in fashion magazines to construct ideas of femininity as well as national identity for readers. I found art historians who had dismissed the use of art in fashion magazines, saying fashion simply used art as a backdrop to sell clothing. So, I wanted to assert that actually art and fashion work together to create significant aesthetics and messages.

I had always planned to write about classicism and couture in the 1930s because I have a low-key obsession with all things Greco-Roman and I’m fascinated by modern classicism. But about a month before we had to choose our topics I kept thinking about photographs by Cecil Beaton of models in eveningwear in front of Jackson Pollock paintings, and earlier this year I also came across photographs by Genevieve Naylor of models in Alexander Calder’s studio and then I was interested in modern art and fashion. I thought I had to choose between classicism or modern art but Rebecca (shout-out to Rebecca Arnold!!) helped me realize I was essentially looking at the same thing: art and fashion in magazine editorials. So, I didn’t have to choose and I really think it is the perfect topic for me.

 

Favorite book/article you’ve read for your dissertation so far and why?

In my quest to tie together art, fashion, and mid-century American politics I found a fantastic article by Alex Taylor about how Calder’s sculptures were used for both U.S. cultural propaganda and Latin American dissent during the Cold War.

Also, I got to re-visit the catalog from my favorite Met Costume Institute exhibition, 2003’s Goddess: The Classical Mode which spotlighted fashion designer’s affinity for the classical.

 

Favorite image/object in your dissertation and why?

A Vogue 1931 editorial “Bas Relief” featuring George Hoyningen-Huene’s photographs of Madeleine Vionnet evening pyjamas where the model is actually lying down against a dark background but it looks like she floats while her dress swirls around her. The meeting of timeless classical imagery and modern photography is breathtaking and Hoyningen-Huene is my favorite photographer AND Vionnet is the best – it just doesn’t get any better.

 

Favorite place to work?

I can only focus in my room or in the Courtauld library

 

Dissertation Discussion: Arielle

 

What is the working title of your dissertation?

My title is very working (I change my mind about it daily), but it is currently “Underground Intimacy: Self-Fashioning in Bruce Davidson’s Subway, 1980”.

What led you to choose this subject?

I first saw a few photographs from the Subway series around one year ago on our amazing tutor Rebecca Arnold’s Instagram. I did not know at the time this series would become the topic of my dissertation until I kept coming back to them, enchanted by this closeness I felt to the people within the photographs and Davidson’s use of color and light. I was interested in documentary photography and dress, and I thought the subway created an interesting platform to discuss groups of bodies and self-fashioning.

Favorite book/article you’ve read for your dissertation so far and why?

Anthropologist Marc Augé’s Non-places has been the most challenging but most helpful book I have read; I use his theory about transitory spaces like the subway to contextualize my argument. But I’ve also really enjoyed researching the subcultures of New York City in 1980. I don’t directly include it in my dissertation, but I now know a surprising amount about gang culture/customs and the evolution of graffiti in the subway.

Favorite image/object in your dissertation and why?

I can’t choose a favorite! I love the photographs as a series. But the first photograph I knew I wanted to include, and the first visual analysis I wrote, is this photograph of a woman dressed in an all yellow tube top and running short pairing. Her body is turned away from the viewer, but the way Davidson captures the color of her garments and the light reflecting off her skin is so beautiful.

Favorite place to work? 

I do the majority of my research at the V&A National Art Library, but I do my best writing at Timberyard, which is a coffee shop in Seven Dials. (I do also need to give a shout out to the employees at the Pret next to the Courtauld who are so kind to me—they are always asking about my dissertation as I go to them daily for sustenance and caffeine).

Dissertation Discussion: Evie

 

What is the working title of your dissertation?

A Biography of Tapestry: Moki Cherry: Home, Stage, Museum

What led you to choose this subject?

I was led to writing about Moki Cherry’s tapestries and their relationship to different environments because of the eerie absence of critical writing about her artwork (despite being exhibited internationally and being such an important part of jazz musician, Don Cherry’s aesthetic).

Favorite book/article you’ve read for your dissertation so far and why?

The best thing I’ve read is an issue of the feminist arts journal Heresies called Women’s Traditional Arts, The Politics of Aesthetics, from 1978. I found the writing and photography in here to be provocative and relevant. Lucy Lippard’s article ‘Making Something from Nothing (Towards a Definition of Women’s Hobby Art)’ provided a feminist approach to my research into Cherry’s tapestries and the social conditions they were made in.

Favorite image/object in your dissertation and why?

My favourite image is a poster that Moki Cherry made for a concert in Stockholm 1967. It was the first concert that she collaborated on with Don Cherry as Movement Incorporated. It was really rewarding to discover this poster among other archived papers, and to see the symbols of hands, lips, birds and stars that are recurring motifs throughout her later tapestries.

 

Favorite place to work?

Anywhere quiet with natural light…

Dissertation Discussion: Olivia

 

What is the working title of your dissertation?

 

My current working title is ‘Hats, Jackets, and Two Bloody Shirts: Costumes, Masculinity, and Genre Subversion in Brokeback Mountain’ but that will probably change by the time I’m finished.

What led you to choose this subject?

 

I’ve really always been fascinated by film and costumes, and as the course progressed I found myself gravitating more and more towards that topic. For my second essay and my virtual exhibition I focused on costume design in Hollywood’s Golden Age. In my research for those projects I became more interested in costumes that you don’t particularly notice, but definitely have an impact on your understanding of the characters, their emotions, and their situations.  Brokeback Mountain is one of those films to me where you may not necessarily notice the costumes (and that’s a good thing!), but you feel them and they contribute enormously to our understanding of the characters. From there I began to think about it in terms of other Western films and how it compares and contrasts, and my topic really developed from that comparison.

Favorite book/article you’ve read for your dissertation so far and why?

 

I love Deborah Nadoolman Landis’s catalogue from the Hollywood Costume exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was such a fantastic exhibition and the catalogue is beautiful. I always end up getting sidetracked from what I’m meant to be reading when I use it because it’s all so fun to look at! I’ve also really enjoyed reading David Greven’s book Manhood in Hollywood from Bush to Bush, just a fascinating read with a great discussion of evolving ideas of masculinity in film in the late 20th and early 21st century.

 

Favorite image/object in your dissertation and why?

 

I love them all, but I think my favorite has to be one of the most iconic/memorable images from Brokeback Mountain of our two heroes Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar on the titular Brokeback Mountain, where Jack is standing up and he playfully lassoes Ennis. It’s a beautiful shot in the film that really contrasts the grandeur of their setting with the intimacy of their relationship. It encapsulates a lot of what I’m trying to say in my dissertation about the contrast between iconic images of cowboy mythology and a more modern, emotional ideal of masculinity.

 

 

Favorite place to work?

 

My favorite place to work is probably the Reuben Library at the British Film Institute, it has a lot of the books I need and is a really nice, quiet, small work environment. I also love working at the café at Foyle’s bookstore.