The McCord Museum of Canadian History, the Research Group on Appearance (GRAP) of the École supérieure de mode de Montréal/Université du Québec à Montréal and the Costume Society of America Northeastern Region seek proposals for papers for the colloquium "Modesty and Appearance", October 25-27, 2007 at the McCord Museum, 690 Sherbrooke Street West, Montréal, Quebec.
This colloquium is intended to open up interdisciplinary conversations about notions of modesty for researchers in the fields of dress and appearance from backgrounds in history, anthropology, women’s studies, art history, literary studies, ethnology, media and communication studies, sociology, cultural studies, and philosophy. Submissions from museum and material culture scholars, and costume and textile historians are encouraged.
Is modesty on its way to becoming an obsolete concept as the relationship between the body and dress continues to change significantly in Western fashion? The female body is increasingly in the public gaze as women, teenagers, and even preteens adopt eroticized styles of dress with bare midriffs and exposed thongs and bra-straps. Boundaries which once exempted men’s bodies from display in fashion are being increasingly eroded. The exposure of skin is now as much a part of fashion as what is worn, and the improvement and embellishment of the body is an unprecedented preoccupation and project. As the popularity of muscle toning, piercing, tattooing, plastic surgery, laser hair removal, and cosmetics have increased and diversified the way the body may be modified and manipulated, concern over the Western obsession with the presentation of the body abounds. Such controversies are not new: cultural anxieties over the exposure and modification of women’s bodies in fashion have deep roots in Western culture. In the current context of the unprecedented importance of the body in fashion, this colloquium seeks to bring together a range of scholarship to address historical and contemporary, Western and non-Western issues of modesty and appearance.
Abstracts may address any of the following themes:
- modesty and eroticism in dress, historic and contemporary, Western and non-Western;
- changing understandings of the body and of dress as an embodied practice in historic and contemporary contexts;
- body modifications such as methods of shaping from corsetry to fitness, piercing, tattooing, and plastic surgery;
- material culture relating to modesty or immodesty;
- symbolism and interpretations of dress practices which stimulate controversy over notions of revealing and concealing;
- representations of the dressed/undressed body in media and art.
English and French.
Submission of Abstracts:
Abstracts for papers should not exceed 600 words in length (Times New Roman, 12 points) and should be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with a curriculum vitae (Times New Roman, 12 points), and a short biography for use in the program or publicity (maximum 100 words). A separate page must indicate the authors’ names, addresses, telephone numbers, fax numbers, and email addresses, and to whom all communication should be directed. Students (Masters and Ph.D.) are encouraged to submit, and should also indicate their degree status, school and program in which they are enrolled. All contributions must be received no later than 15 December 2006. Notices of acceptance will be sent out mid-February 2007.
Registration fees will be posted in February 2007, but are expected to be in the order of $100 CAN and student rates in the order of $50 CAN. A cocktail reception and visit of the McCord Museum’s exhibition "Reveal or Conceal?" are included in the price of registration.
Cynthia Cooper, Curator, Costume and Textiles
McCord Museum of Canadian History
690 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, QC H3A 2A3
(514) 398-7100, ext. 288
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