Courses Detail Information

ENGL1240J – Fashion, Fiction and Feminism


Angela Gehling

Credits: 3 credits

Pre-requisites: ENGL1000J Obtained Credit


This course will survey how women’s changing status and level of freedom from the 18th to the 21st century has been reflected in contemporary Western fiction. It will also focus on the wider connection between status, garments and public display and the changes in clothing’s production, sale and consumption.

Course Topics:

  1. An overview of the history of garment production –from home weaving and sewing to ready-to-wear.
  2. A survey of the historical changes in Western women’s freedom, social status and political and economic power from the 18thto 21st
  3. A historical analysis of how women’s clothing and jewellery functioned as social markers, economic resources and sources of entertainment.
  4. An analysis of the wardrobes of fictional heroines, and how its depiction correlates to their character traits and social status.
  5. A survey of clothing retail history, and how the dress shop measures women’s emergence into the public sphere.
  6. An analysis of the different roles available in the clothing market –customer, worker, designer and owner—and how they have variously appeared in fiction.
  7. An analysis of how contemporary anxieties over changing gender roles have been reflected in fiction’s engagement with fashion.
  8. An exploration of how the contemporary fashion industry reflects these themes.