Morna Laing - Interrogating the Gaze: Methods for the Study of Fashion Spectatorship
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The meaning of any given image can never be fixed: instead, it will vary according to time, place and the socio-cultural positioning of the viewer. To account for such variance, methods have been developed for the study of spectatorship, from reception studies in art history to audience studies in media and television. This paper will consider how such methods can be applied to the study of fashion photography.
While the idea of the ‘male gaze’ has been incredibly influential, its validity vis-à-vis fashion imagery is seldom interrogated through social research. Speaking to individuals in the social world might therefore allow scholars to evaluate the usefulness of this concept when it comes to the study of fashion. Yet, at the same time, reception studies have their limitations: for if the male gaze was originally framed in psychoanalytic terms – with an emphasis on the unconscious – such desires and identifications cannot by their very nature be accessed by a researcher. The concept of discourse potentially provides a way out from this conflict, providing a means of discussing both the images themselves and the words and concepts that viewers deploy to make sense of them.
Dr. Morna Laing is Assistant Professor in Fashion Studies at The New School, Parsons Paris. She holds a PhD in Cultural Studies from University of the Arts London, where she also lectured from 2011–2019. She is the author of Picturing the Woman-child, a monograph forthcoming with Bloomsbury Academic. At present she is co-editing a book with Dr. Jacki Willson entitled Revisiting the Gaze: The Fashioned Body and the Politics of Looking, which aims to re-evaluate practices of spectatorship in light of digital culture and the recent resurgence in feminist activism.
Avec les mêmes intervenants et intervenantes
Après leurs trois interventions, Morna Laing, Arthur Gillet et Nathalie et Nick Rees-Roberts échangent sur leurs objets respectifs sous la modération d'Émilie Hammen.