Spatial Dress Reflection
Choose a place in New York City to go and walk around. This could be a borough or neighborhood you haven’t been to, a park, a building, or part of a building. It can be a social space such as a store (maybe one selling clothes you can’t afford, or would never choose to wear), or a party full of new people. Consider your choice of place carefully: it will be most rewarding to try to push yourselves beyond your comfort zone.
Keep in mind the figure of the flâneur, a person who thrives on the energy of the city’s public spaces and maintains a cool emotional distance from the scene around them. This should help you stay in the headspace required for observing the sensations of your own dressed experience.
Begin the paper by briefly describing (1 paragraph) the space you will be heading to, and the conditions under which you are going (alone or with others, day vs. night, distance and method of transportation, etc.). Tell us why you’ve chosen this particular space, and what makes it uniquely urban.
Consider carefully your clothing choices before heading out. Describe (1 paragraph) your outfit and the thought process behind it. Some questions to guide you: Do you feel conspicuous, or do you hope to blend in? Are you choosing clothes for practical reasons (such as weather), or style reasons? Dark colors or tough materials? Obviously expensive clothing or accessories? Clothing with sentimental value or many associated memories? Gender-conforming, or gender-defying dress?
The remainder of the paper should be divided between an account of what happened once you reached your destination, and a reflection on how this experience did or did not reflect the theories and themes we have read about and discussed in class.
Ask yourselves: Did you feel conspicuous in the space? Did your body feel comfortable or vulnerable? Why and how? Did your clothing make you feel more or less protected or confident? Can you describe how the space around your body feels affected by you being in it? If there were others there, how did they seem to be reacting to you? Did you feel warm, cold, itchy, or another physical sensation that affected how you interacted with the space or other people?
You should write the account in first person, and feel free to be creative with the prose. We are looking for evidence of some deep thinking about yourself as a dressed body in public space, rather than perfect academic writing.
Use the Chicago style for citations (footnotes and bibliography).
You must quote from at least one of the Entwistle and Koskela readings, and at least one other course reading.
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