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Identity and the imaginary: Rhetorics of menswear in literature and film

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We critically examine the use of menswear in literature and film as an expression of Weltanschauung, a view of the world by creatives in the literary and visual arts. While depictions and presentations of menswear serve as rhetorical devices in literature and film, this occurs within a sociocultural meaning system, where the creator not only captures elements of social realities but also serves to influence them. Our enquiry informs how taste is defined through the distinctions made in social processes involving cultural capital through creative production. This involves context-rich analyses of how menswear is used to craft identities and tropes embedded within a historicized imaginary that may have never even existed. Such an examination of menswear as an art form in media allows for a nuanced critical analysis of gender performativity and issues of trajectories of meanings over time. Our theoretical framework builds on the fashion system and cultural reproduction work of Roland Barthes and Pierre Bourdieu, respectively. We use several key case studies of twentieth-century authors and film projects to develop new theory that has implications for understanding menswear as an art form with societal significance, with implications for better understanding gender, identity, culture and the everyday praxis of individuals and institutions.
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Keywords: cinema studies; culture and fashion; literary analysis; rhetorics in menswear; sociology of art; sociology of fashion; visual rhetorics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: LIM College

Publication date: September 1, 2017

More about this publication?
  • Critical Studies in Men's Fashion examines the multi-faceted dimensions of men's appearance. It uses the holistic definition of dress as a means of examining the tangible and intangible aspects of creating and maintaining appearance. This journal is the first to exclusively focus on men's dress and topics of gender, identity, sexuality, culture, marketing and business will be discussed. Men's dress and fashion have been side-lined in scholarship, and this journal provides a dedicated space for the discussion, analysis, and theoretical development of men's appearance from multiple disciplines. All articles are blind-peer reviewed in order to maintain the highest standards of scholastic integrity. Theoretical and empirical scholarship in the form of original articles, manuscripts, research reports, pedagogy, and media reviews are welcome.
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