Costume and Society 1400-2000

Did I sound a little hysterical yesterday? Hmm. Maybe I was. Anyway, on a calmer note, here are the details of the course I am running in Leicester starting next month:

Costume and Society 1400-2000
This course is an illustrated introduction to textile and fashion history, starting with the medieval English wool trade and church embroidery, and moving on to Elizabethan dress and the Spitalfields silk industry. We will look at the Arts and Crafts movement and how its influence has continued to the present day.

Image from London Metropolitan Archive

The course runs on 6 Tuesdays from 22nd April at 1.30-3.00, at
WEA Vaughan College, Leicester city centre.
Full course outline below. It costs £22.50- a bargain!
For booking information please phone 0116 251 9740

This short course aims to provide a lively and enjoyable introduction to British textile and fashion history and it’s relationship to social history. We will look at clothing and textiles; the wearers and the makers, from the late middle ages to the present day.

The course will run chronologically, beginning with the medieval English wool trade, the clothing and textiles available to ordinary people, in contrast with the luxury cloth commissioned and owned by the Church. We will study the development of secular embroidery and fashionable developments in the 16th and 17th centuries and the rise in imported textiles in the 18th century. In particularly we will look at the London silk weaving industry, and the trade in Indian textiles. Moving into the 19th century, we shall explore the impact of the French Revolution on fashion and the developments of the Regency period. The latter part of the course will look at the Arts and Crafts Movement and it’s impact on clothing in the late 19th century and changes in fashion and society up to the first world war. The last session will look at contemporary issues in the fashion and textile industry. Throughout the course we will discuss what we mean by social history in the context of dress and textiles, and draw links between wider social movements and fashionable clothing.

The course will be presented in a lively and informal manner. There will be extensive use of images, along with documentary and literary evidence. Images will be a mixture of surviving examples from museum collections, and contemporary images such as prints and photographs. Where relevant and possible, examples, demonstrations and handling objects will also be included, giving students an opportunity for hands-on learning. Students will be expected to join group discussions about key issues and to study materials such as images and documents to draw their own conclusions alone or in pairs.

As a result of this course it may be possible for you to:
1. Identify some different periods of dress by style and materials
2. Have an understanding of textile production techniques in the period covered
3. Assess to what extent wider social issues are reflected in fashion and textiles
4.Understand the impact of international trade on society and on fashion
5. Consider the impact of dress reform on today’s society
6. Evaluate the relationship we have with textiles and clothing today in comparison with attitudes in the past.

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