At the Seaside by William Merritt Chase

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ART H 260 A: Fashion, Nation, and Culture

Meeting Time: 
TTh 2:30pm - 3:50pm
SAV 264
Joint Sections: 
ITAL 260 A, JSIS A 260 A
Susan L Gaylard

Syllabus Description:

Thank you for a great quarter! Thanks for being interested and engaged despite the grey weather and our terrible time slot.


Lecture: TuTh 2.30-3.50 in Savery 264

Discussion section: Fri 1.30-2.20 (Sav 156) or 2.30-3.20 (Sav 131)

Office hours:

Professor Gaylard: Tue 10-12 in Padelford C-259 or by phone 206.616.3940

Giordano Conticelli:  Thu 11-1  in Art 311


Course objectives:

  • Gain an overview of Italian (and Western European) culture by focusing on fashion and manners from the late medieval period to today.
  • Explore common assumptions about nation, gender, clothes, and make-up, through literary and visual analysis,
  • in order to seek answers to two primary questions: “What is fashion?” and “What makes Italian fashion Italian?”
  • Use resources from the library’s Special Collections.
  • Engage in a discussion that relates contemporary American concerns to issues raised in European culture since the middle ages.
  • Improve skills of critical analysis in both reading and writing:

Pick out the main point(s) of a piece of academic writing.

Contextualize an academic article using your new knowledge (from this course), and respond to it.

Build on your new knowledge to develop an argument that supports your opinions.


Course overview

This course provides a broad introduction to Italian culture by examining the category “fashion” —beginning with late medieval livery, and the Renaissance emphasis on adapting one’s clothes, speech and personal style to the occasion. The early modern emphasis on manners, and the plethora of “how-to” manuals, corresponded with a growing identification of “dressing up” with effeminacy. We will examine the problem of gender and consumption, so as to contextualize the English adoption of the three-piece suit as modest masculine attire. We will also consider the role of clothing in constructing Italian, French, and American national identity. In this light, students will study both the post-war Italian idealization of American culture, and American idealization of Italian fashion.


In analyzing literature, images, films, and material objects, we will focus on a series of questions: How can clothes constitute identity? And can clothes constitute national identity? What is the role of gender in the production and consumption of “beauty”? Which early modern elements of style and behavior remain current today, and why? What is “Italian” about Italian style?


Course expectations and grading scale

In order to help you succeed in this course, I (the professor) undertake to:

  • begin and end class on time
  • be available for shorter questions right after class (TuTh 3.50-4.05) and for longer questions at office hours Tues 10-12 (and by phone during office hours)
  • ensure that grading is fair and timely
  • respond to brief email queries (routed to TA Giordano) within a reasonable time frame (Mon-Fri)


Your success depends on your commitment to:

  • attend lecture and section
  • complete readings well before class, thinking about the question of the week
  • turn in assignments on time
  • respect your classmates:
  • learn from your classmates’ comments and questions
  • avoid chatting, eating, using your phone, and social media
  • if you have to arrive late or leave early, minimize disruption by sitting at the end of a row near the door
  • if you have a cold/cough/allergies, please wear a mask
  • use available help for writing your papers:

                        - visit CLUE:

                        - use the resources at: especially “How to Organize & Structure Your Paper” and “How to Perform a Close Reading”

                      - make an appointment at the Odegaard Writing Center:




If you have questions or concerns, don’t wait! Bring them to the professor or your TA asap.



Short in-class written assignments                                      10%

One very short paper (1 page max, double spaced)          5%

Two short papers (4-6 pages):                         2 x 15% =   30%

Midterm exam                                                                         25%

Final exam                                                                               30%


In-class written assignments (graded check plus, check, check minus, or zero) are a way for you to identify where your concerns are, or questions you want to explore. They also show us where you may need more help to understand the readings. Assignments may be one-minute freewrites, short quizzes, quick responses to a question, or some other format. Assignments will be given randomly in lecture or section; only completed work turned in during class will receive credit. You are most likely to receive full credit for these assignments if you prepare all readings carefully before class, and pay attention during class.


In-class writing assignments and the very short paper are designed to help you formulate ideas for two short papers (graded on a percentage scale). That way, you can improve your grade as your writing skills develop through careful reading and consistent writing. Papers that are too short or too long may be penalized (use 12-point Times Roman font and margins of 1 inch).


To prepare for the exams, it is important to attend lectures and discussion sections. While the exams require you to remember some facts, the focus is your ability to use what you have learned in order to contextualize and critically analyze images and texts.


Academic standards matter because without them, your studies have no value.

In order for you to benefit from this course, your work must be the product of your own analysis and thought processes.

 Plagiarism and use of AI tools (like Chat GPT) to generate prose will earn an F grade and be reported to the Office of Academic Standards.    

How to avoid plagiarism:

How to avoid Chat GPT: Trust yourself: you are here because you have the potential to learn, think, and analyze. Trust the process of reading, thinking, writing, re-thinking, re-writing. Read carefully (ideally from paper), making handwritten notes of what YOU THINK the main point of each article is. For very dense articles, write down the main point of each section or each page. Come to class ready to discuss what the main point is.


Required texts:

*Christopher Duggan, A Concise History of Italy (green 2nd edition, 2014)

*Molière, The Bourgeois Gentleman, trans. Bernard Sahlins (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2000)

*Readings, images, paper topics, assignments, and other information will be posted on


Religious accommodations: Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (


Access and Accommodations

If you have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (e.g. mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing), please contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or or . DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions. If you already have DRS accommodations, please let us know as soon as possible.


Course Schedule

This timetable may change during the quarter; check email and Canvas for updates



1/4 Introductions

1/5 section -- yes, there is section today!


  1. When did fashion become fashion, and why?

1/9 Christopher Duggan, Concise History of Italy, 46-59 (photocopies in course reader)

Catherine Richardson, “Introduction,” Clothing Culture, 1350-1650 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004): 1-3.

Evelyn Welch, “Introduction,” Shopping in the Renaissance (Yale UP, 2005): 1-15


1/11 Very short paper due (on Canvas)

Ann Rosalind Jones and Peter Stallybrass, Renaissance clothing and the materials of memory (Cambridge UP, 2000): 1-11

Boccaccio, Decameron X.10 (1348)


1/12 section


  1. What is the relationship between clothing and identity?

1/16 Duggan, “The Invasions of Italy,” Concise History of Italy, 60-65 (both editions)

Baldesar Castiglione, The Book of the Courtier (selections) (1528)

Giovanni Della Casa, Galateo (selections) (1558)


1/18 Timothy McCall, “Brilliant Bodies,” I Tatti Studies in the  Italian Renaissance 16.1-2 (2013)

Duggan, Concise History 65-75 (both editions)


1/19 (section): review of paper-writing skills; work on first paper draft


  1. What is the relation between clothing, shoes, and power?


First paper due (on Canvas)

Giambattista Basile, The Cat Cinderella  (1634)

Joan DeJean, ‘Cinderella’s Slipper and the King’s Boots’, in The Essence of Style (Free Press, 2005), 83-103


1/25 Molière, The Bourgeois Gentleman, trans. Bernard Sahlins (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2000) (1670)


1/26 (section) Midterm exam review


  1. Why did men stop wearing “pretty” clothes?

1/30  Duggan, “The Eighteenth Century,” Concise History, 75-86

David Kuchta, “The Making of the Self-Made Man: Class, Clothing, and English Masculinity, 1688-1832,” The Sex of Things, ed. Victoria De Grazia (UC Press, 1996), 54-78


2/1 IN-CLASS MIDTERM EXAM (1 HR 20 MIN) – bring a blank exam book


2/2 section


  1. How can women perform “inner” beauty and national identity?

2/6  Duggan, “The Emergence of the National Question,” Concise History, 87-116 (BLUE edition); or 87-117 (GREEN edition)

Valerie Steele, The Corset: A Cultural History (New Haven: Yale UP, 2001), 1, 34-41


2/8 Duggan, ‘Italy United’, 117-146 (BLUE edition); or 118-143 (GREEN edition)

Kathy Peiss, “Making Up, Making Over: Cosmetics, Consumer Culture, and Women’s Identity” in The Sex of Things, ed. Victoria De Grazia (UC Press, 1996), 311-336

Harvey Newcomb, How to be a Lady: a book for girls (Boston: Gould, Kendall, and Lincoln, 1850), p. 107

“The small-waist nuisance”, The Ladies’ Repository (1864), 97-98 (Special Collections – posted on Canvas under FILES)


2/9 section


  1. How does dress reflect nationhood?

2/13  Stephen Gundle, ‘Garibaldi’s female figures’, ‘The blonde aura of Queen Margherita’, Bellissima, 28-32; 33-57

Duggan, ‘Giolitti, the First World War, and the rise of Fascism,’ 171-204 (BLUE edition); or 173-206 (GREEN edition)


2/15  Duggan, “Fascism,” Concise History, 205-210, 221-232 (BLUE edition); or 207-212, 223-234 (GREEN edition)


2/16 Visit to SPECIAL COLLECTIONS CLASSROOM, 1.30-2.20 or 2.30-3.20


  1. What is the relation between Italian style and American style?

2/20 Selections from “The Night of the Shooting Stars” (in class)

Duggan, Concise History, 232-244 (BLUE edition), or 234-247 (GREEN edition)

Selections from Federico Fellini, Amarcord (1973) (in class)

Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi, “Peeking under the Black Shirt: Italian Fascism’s Disembodied Bodies,” Fashioning the Body Politic, ed. Wendy Parkins (Oxford: Berg, 2002), 145-65


2/22 Giuseppe De Santis, Riso amaro (1948) – watch online before coming to class


2/23 (section): paper-writing workshop


  1. What is “Italian” about Italian style?

2/27 Second paper due

Duggan, Concise History, 244-261 (BLUE edition); or 246-264 (GREEN edition)

Christian Dior, “The New Look,” Dior by Dior, 27-37

Stephen Gundle, ‘Feminine Beauty, National Identity and Political Conflict in Postwar Italy, 1945-1954, Contemporary European History 8.3 (1999): 359-78


2/29 Lee Wright, “Objectifying Gender: The Stiletto Heel,” Fashion Theory, ed. Malcolm Barnard (Routledge, 2007), 197-207

Duggan, “The Revolts of 1968-73”, 269-86 (BLUE edition); or 272-287 (GREEN edition)


3/1 section: exam review


  1. Fashion, nationalism, fascism

3/5 Beverly Allen, “The Novel, the Body, and Giorgio Armani: Rethinking National ‘Identity’ in a Postnational World,” Feminine Feminists: Cultural Practices in Italy, ed. Giovanna Miceli Jeffries (U of Minnesota P, 1994): 155-156 and 166-16

Duggan, “The Republic,” Concise History, 286-297 bottom of page (BLUE edition); or 288-299 (GREEN edition)


3/7 IN-CLASS FINAL EXAM (1 hr 20 min) – bring a blank exam book

Catalog Description: 
Introduction to Italian culture focusing on fashion and manners from the late Middle Ages to today. Explores common assumptions about nation, gender, clothes, make-up, and manners, through literary and visual analysis. In English. Offered: jointly with ITAL 260/JSIS A 260; W.
GE Requirements: 
Social Sciences (SSc)
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
February 15, 2024 - 8:25pm