Traditional Cloth and Clothing: Art, Ritual, Heritage and Protest


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Drawing on scholarship from the disciplines of history, art history, anthropology, and folklore, we consider the role of cloth in human experience. We will examine the use of traditional textiles in a range of historical and cultural contexts, with an emphasis on exploring social and symbolic functions as they relate to production, exchange, accumulation, and display. We will analyze the processes of fabrication–gathering materials, spinning, weaving, dyeing, embroidering, etc.– as well as the subsequent manipulation of cloth to reinforce, enact, and sometimes contest, values and ideology in various social and political settings, including ceremonies, rituals, museum exhibitions, the like. We will look at the role of cloth in a range of cross-cultural exchanges and the evolution of its uses in the face of commodification and cultural tourism. Issues of gender, social identity, exchange, and modernization will be explored. Textiles addressed will include the molas produced by the Kuna of Panama, traditional clothing in 19th century Ireland, Haitian Vodou flags, Native-American dresses and rugs, Pacific Island bark cloth and quilts, and the arpilleras created by women as resistance to the dictatorship of Pinochet in Chile.

This online class uses the Moodle platform. There are no scheduled meeting times. Students follow a syllabus that includes lectures, assignments, and deadlines.

Timothy Correll

Timothy Correll holds a PhD in folklore from the University of California, Los Angeles. He has published a number of articles and books on folklore and folk art and has curated exhibitions at the Craft and Folk Art Museum and the Fowler Museum of Cultural History in Los Angeles. Dr. Correll has taught at Harvard … Read more