Garment Exploration

Paper, Order, or Assignment Requirements



1. The paper should be 4-5 pages in length, double-spaced, using 12-point font. Please use 1” margins.

2. Use the Chicago style for citations (i.e. footnotes) and bibliography.

3. You need at least five sources, maximum two Internet sources, and you must include quotations from one or both of the Prown and Steele readings.
Prown/Steele Readings/Object Analysis Method — Key Questions and An Outline of the Method
These questions may help you understand the reason for the approach:
How does Prown define ‘material culture’? Is it a discipline or a field? (p. 1, p. 5)
Why does it seem contradictory? What are the biases in Western history/culture/academia that make it seem this way? (p. 2)
What is scientific method? What is the difference between internal and external evidence? What does Prown mean when he says that the methodology that he proposes is to some extent
structuralist and semiotic? (p. 6) What is “the aesthetic dilemma”? What stage of the research does it arise in? (pp. 12-13)
The Approach
*Prown proposes a method for analyzing a variety of material objects, but Valerie Steele is concerned with fashion objects in particular. Below is an outline of Prown’s method amended with Steele’s considerations. Steele also includes the work of E. McClung Fleming as a supplement to Prown.
“The analysis proceeds from description, recording the internal evidence of the object itself; to deduction, interpreting the interaction between the object itself; to speculation, framing hypotheses and questions which lead out from the object to external evidence for testing and resolution (Steele, 329) (Prown 1982: 7).”
Part 1: Description of the Object A. Substantial Analysis: “Tape measures, scales, and magnifying glasses are useful tools (Ibid.)” B. Content: “If the object is decorated, describe any overt representations, designs or motifs (Ibid.)” C. Formal Analysis: “After this, undertake a formal analysis of the object’s shape, form, color, and texture (Ibid.).”
Part 2: Deduction A. Sensory Engagement: “Although in most cases it is not possible to try on the clothing in question, you should contemplate what it would be like to wear it. Touch the object, lift it, and otherwise engage in a sensory experience of the object (Ibid.).” B. Intellectual Engagement: “. . . Consider what the object does and how it does it (Ibid., 330).” i. It is also in this stage that you can extend the description using the methods of Quantitative and Stylistic Analysis as described by Prown on pp. 11-12.

ii. Iconology. iii. And Steele proposes that we also compare our object to other objects like it. “Is the artifact typical or unusual? Is it an excellent or a mediocre example of its kind? (Ibid.)” C. Emotional Response: “Reactions vary in kind, intensity, and specificity, but it is not uncommon to discover that what one considered a subjective response is in fact widely shared (Prown, 9).”
Part 3: Speculation: “. . .The framing of questions and hypotheses that then need to be tested against external evidence (Steele, 331).” A. Theories and Hypotheses: “This is the time of summing up what has been learned from the internal evidence of the object itself, turning those data over in one’s mind, developing theories that might explain the various effects observed and felt (Prown, 10).” B. Program of Research: What kind of external sources are you going to engage with to prove or disprove your theories? Where are you going to look first? Make a plan.