Purpose of the Assignment: Explore university level research sources and methods. Over the course of the semester, we will explore the resources available for fashion/ dress research at this university. My goal is that everyone leaves the class with a working knowledge of the library catalogs; the fashion databases; and the range of sources (including primary sources like fashion magazines and journals) available in the library. These sources are here to support your future studio work in the Apparel Dept.
Part I ) Gather everything you would need for a research project of your own devising. You will not actually write a complete essay, but you will produce all of its parts, including: I.A. Articulate a specific research question related to dress/ fashion. Length: a few sentences. A good research question speaks to a genuine dilemma of interpretation, yields an answer that is not obvious, and—when you are actually writing a paper—allows you to develop a thesis that explores an idea. (You can think of the thesis or claim as an “answer” to your research question). A good question also sparks an essay that analyzes rather than one that describes or summarizes, and thus helps establish the reason that the essay needs to be read. I.B. Locate 3 artifacts or pieces of evidence (such as an image of a garment; a fashion spread; or other document); Your evidence is the central to your essay. If you were writing an actual essay, you would analyze and discuss this key evidence in order to help you explore your research question. Include images and captions for all the evidence. That means: 1) Title, maker, date, and the place you found the evidence (whether from a book, a fashion journal/ database or a museum cite). And 2) a sentence or two describing why this evidence is significant. Number your figures sequentially, starting with “Fig. 1.” Here’s an example: Fig. 1. Stephen Wilatts, Dress: Variable Sheets, 1965. Plastic with metal zips. Victoria & Albert Museum. This dress was one of a series of designs for furniture and dress that Stephen Willats made to express the concept of self-organization. The zipped blocks can be assembled in a variety of ways and included messages placed by the wearer. For more on captions, see: Fleet Library “Fleet Library/ Research Guides/ Library Basics / How to Cite Images, here https://risd.libguides.com/citingimages You can use whatever form you like; MLA is popular. Just stay consistent! IC. Identify 5 secondary sources for an Annotated Bibliography For the Annotated Bibliography, include a range of types of sources. Include at least one design source; one book on fashion history/theory; and one book conceptually related to the topic that has nothing to do with dress/ fashion (such as social or design history). See further information on the Annotated Bib, see: Compiling an Annotated Bibliogrpahy.
Part II ) A 3-page (800 – 900 word) essay that assesses your research methods. Consider the following questions and craft a well-organized reflection. You may want to refer to your initial research interview for this class. Were you able to find what you wanted? What new strategies did you utilize? What still frustrates you about research? What more would you like to accomplish? In what ways do you see future research supporting your studio practice? You can refer to Part I in this discussion. In this essay, I am not looking for a blow-by-blow description of your research (e.g., “I did this, then I found this”). Instead, craft a well-considered and brief essay that reflects on the questions above in whatever order makes sense to you. Evaluation of research project: Part I will be evaluated based on the degree to which students locate compelling evidence and identify plausible sources that support a specific (and significant) research question. Part II will be evaluated based on the degree to which students thoughtfully assess and evaluate their own research methods, using specific examples from Part I.
TOPICS: You can choose your own topic, or you can choose one of the topics below that interests you: How have designers (and stylists and fashion photographers) deployed associations with some style or material quality to communicate some facet of the wearer’s identity? Do those associations change over time or are they stable? Choose a commonly referenced (although often vaguely defined) style, e.g. romantic, bohemian, exotic, gothic, futuristic, street, utilitarian/ military, leisure/ resort, deconstructed, classical, sporty, hippy, natural. Or, chose a material, pattern or decorative element, e.g. fur /leopard skin, synthetics, chiffon/sheer, neon, camouflage, khaki, stripes, polka dots. Or, choose a specific article or accessory that has been routinely appropriated/ appreciated by mainstream, western fashion, e.g. turban, harem pant, Nehru jacket, Mao jacket, Kente cloth.