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FILM 47.26 - Film and Fashion: Dressing the Part

This is a course guide for FILM 47.26.

Course description

This course examines the interrelations between film, costuming, and fashion cultures. We will look at theories of fashion, “the fashioned body,” and costume, reading them against trends in fashionable dress, body image, and fashion subcultures, as well as against histories of film costuming and spectacle. Screenings include media texts from different historical periods that reflect or have influenced fashion of their time and/or represent interesting challenges for costuming.

[Source: ORC/Catalog, 07/31/2023]; Dist:ART; WCult:W

Defining costume (fashion)


The clothing or props worn by actors; an important element of production design and mise-en-scene in virtually all films. In film studies, early writing on costume (often in glossy large-format books) tended to focus on the role of individuals such as Hollywood studio-era costume designer, Edith Head, or French costume designer Rosine Delamare. More recent critical work has examined the role of costume in the cinema in a range of different ways, including: as a distinct feature of the iconography of genre films such as the western, gangster film, and, of course, the costume drama; as a discrete element of film style, especially in the role costume plays in the way an actor constructs a character and as a central feature of the cultivation of star personae (see stars). Costume is also considered an essential element of narrative where, it is claimed, it remains largely subservient to the demands of verisimilitude, continuity, and coherence of plot. However, costume is a site of excess and spectacle (especially in melodrama and the musical) and can therefore be disruptive of classical film style (see classical Hollywood cinema).   ...

Kuhn, A., & Westwell, G. (2020). Costume. In A Dictionary of Film Studies. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 31 Jul. 2023

In the Library's collections

You can use one of these subject headings to start your research in the library's online catalog:

Introductory reading(s)

Selected book title(s)

Other library resource(s)

Selected film(s) for Film and Fashion

Finding scholarly articles & journal title(s)

You can find scholarly literature for fashion in film studies in a variety of journals. However, if you want to do targeted searching, you can use a subject specific database such as Film & Television Literature Index. We have one journal which looks exclusively at fashion and film. It is listed below. You can also use the search box at the top of the page.

Internet resource(s)

Citing and Tracking Your Bibliographic References

Use this guide to help you learn how to correctly cite and keep track of the references you find for your research.

Keeping up with Film Studies journal literature

Want an easy way to keep up with the journal literature for all facets of Film Studies? And you use a mobile device? You can install the BrowZine app and create a custom Bookshelf of your favorite journal titles. Then you will get the Table of Contents (ToCs) of your favorite journals automatically delivered to you when they become available. Once you have the ToC's, you can download and read the articles you want from the journals for which we have subscriptions.

You can get the app from the App Store or Google Play.

Don't own or use a mobile device? You can still use BrowZine! It's also available in a web version. You can get to it here. The web version works the same way as the app version. Find the journals you like, create a custom Bookshelf, get ToCs and read the articles you want.