Lesson 1

Introduction to African Dress

 

Please read the following prior to class:
  • Eicher, Joanne B., and Doran H. Ross. "Introduction: The Study of African Dress." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross, pp.3–9. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1002a
  • Porter, Philip W. "Climatic Zones and Cultural Regions." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross, pp.10–16. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1003
  • Smith, Fred T. "Archaeological Evidence." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross, pp.19–25. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1004a
  • Geary, Christraud M. "Photographic and Other Visual Sources." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross, pp.26–34. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1005
  • Mbow, Marie-Amy. "Prehistory to Colonialism." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross, pp.35–43. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1006
  • Akou, Heather Marie. "Colonialism to Independence." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross, pp.44–50. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1007
  • Gott, Suzanne. "Independence to Present." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross, pp.51–59. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1008
Discussion Questions:
  • Describe types of dress in Africa (including body modifications) that are not typically found in Europe and North America.
  • What was dress in Africa like prior to European colonization? How do we know? (What sources are available for research?)
  • In what way(s) is African dress still being influenced by Western fashion today?
  • Several countries in Africa (most recently Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda) have considered banning the importation of secondhand clothing from Europe and North America. Why? Debate whether this is practical (positive) or impractical (negative).
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Lesson 2

The History, Making, and Uses of Textiles

Please read the following prior to class:
  • Aronson, Lisa. "West Africa." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross, pp.144–151. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1021
  • Evenson, Sandra Lee. "Indian Madras: From Currency to Identity." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 10, Global Perspectives, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Phyllis G. Tortora. Oxford: Berg, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch10511
  • Grootaers, Jan-Lodewijk. "Mbuti (BaMbuti) Bark Cloth." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1411
  • Rabine, Leslie W. "Fact, Fabrication and Material Misreading: The Genealogy of ‘Authentic African Print Fabric.’ " In The Global Circulation of African Fashion, pp.135–168. Dress, Body, Culture series. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2002. Berg Fashion Library, 2002. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/9781847888891/GCAF0008
  • Rovine, Victoria L. "Handmade Textiles: Global Markets and Authenticity." In Dress Sense: Emotional and Sensory Experiences of the Body and Clothes, edited by Donald Clay Johnson and Helen Bradley Foster, pp.133–143. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2007. Berg Fashion Library, 2007. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/9781847887139/DRSENS0019
  • Shio, Thadeus. "Kanga." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross, pp.441–442. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1069
  • Sylvanus, Nina. "African Print Textiles from China." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1311
     

Discussion Questions:

  • Describe the history of bògòlanfini (Malian mud cloth) and how it is used in contemporary art and fashion. Which aspects of the cloth have been maintained? What has changed?
  • Although African print cloth (also known as “wax print fabric”) was originally made in Europe, it has distinctive patterns and colors. Describe the history of this cloth and how it has become so widely used. How does kanga cloth compare to wax print cloth?
  • Describe some of the specialized labor needed for dyeing and weaving cloth such as adire, kente, and bògòlanfini. Why are African consumers still buying these textiles today?
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Lesson 3

History of Dress in Africa

Core texts to be read before the lesson:
Wu, Juanjuan. “Bridal Dress in China.” In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 6, East Asia. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch6021

Discussion questions/activities:

  • Your tutor will assign your group a dynasty to research: Zhou, Han, Tang, or Song. Using the reading, create a visual timeline of the key components of traditional Han Chinese wedding clothes and present back to the class.
     
  • The Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) saw a move toward far more utilitarian dress, and specific bridal clothes were not used during the period. Using an online or library search, find examples of wedding photographs/garments from this period and discuss the subtle ways men and women implemented a sense of occasion in their wedding clothes.
     
  • Consider the use of red in traditional Chinese wedding clothes. Research the meanings and symbolism behind the color red in Chinese culture, and its common pairing with gold at weddings and other special occasions. What attributes make this combination especially suitable for a bride and groom?
     
  • At the beginning of 2015, the Ontario Chinese Seniors’ Association helped many local couples, married during the Cultural Revolution, to enjoy the wedding ceremony they never had in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Look through the news links available via an online search, and consider the clothing choices of bride and groom. In what ways do the dresses and suits allow for a more enhancing and traditional experience? In what ways might they take away from this?

Suggested visual material: Raise the Red Lantern (1991)

Lesson 4

Contemporary African Fashion

Please read the following prior to class:

  • Denzer, LaRay. "The Nigerian Fashion Scene." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross, pp.331–336. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1050
  • Kutesko, Elizabeth. "African Influences in European Fashion Design." Bloomsbury Fashion Photography Archive. Berg Fashion Library, 2015. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5040/9781474260428-FPA127
  • Mustafa, Hudita Nura. "La Mode Dakaroise: Elegance, Transnationalism and an African Fashion Capital." In Fashion’s World Cities, edited by Christopher Breward and David Gilbert, pp.177–200. Cultures of Consumption series. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2006. Berg Fashion Library, 2006. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/9780857854117/FASHWRLDCIT0020
  • Nwafor, Okechukwu. "Asọ Ebì and Fashion Magazines in Nigeria." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1612
  • Rabine, Leslie W. "Fashioning Postcolonial Identities in Kenya." In The Global Circulation of African Fashion, pp.73–106. Dress, Body, Culture series. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2002. Berg Fashion Library, 2002. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/9781847888891/GCAF0006
  • Rovine, Victoria L. "African Fashion Designers." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross, pp.68–74. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1011
  • Rovine, Victoria L. "Working the Edge: XULY.Bët’s Recycled Clothing." In Old Clothes, New Looks: Second Hand Fashion, edited by Alexandra Palmer and Hazel Clark, pp.215–228. Dress, Body, Culture series. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2005. Berg Fashion Library, 2005. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/9781847888815/OCNL0023

Discussion questions:

  • Describe the handful of African designers who have worked (or are currently working) in European couture. How has their background influenced their designs?
  • Which cities would you describe as the current “fashion capitals” of Africa? What has allowed fashion to flourish there?
  • Select a contemporary fashion designer from Africa with an online presence; analyze his/her aesthetic and inspirations.
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Lesson 5Regional Histories and Dress Styles
Please read the following prior to class:
  • Akou, Heather Marie. "Somalia." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross, pp.413–420. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1064
  • Becker, Rayda. "Tsonga Dress and Fashion." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross, pp.524–528. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1082
  • Jansen, M. Angela. "Moroccan Fashion as Tradition." In Moroccan Fashion: Design, Tradition and Modernity, pp.15–32. Dress and Fashion Research series. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015. Berg Fashion Library, 2015. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5040/9781474235228.ch-002
  • Klemm, Peri M. "Oromo Dress." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch011417
  • Klopper, Sandra. "Pedi, Ndebele, and Ntwane Dress and Beadwork." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross, pp.519–523. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1081
  • Klopper, Sandra, and Fiona Rankin-Smith. "Migrant Workers, Production, and Fashion." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross, pp.529–532. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1083
  • Kratz, Corinne A. "Kenya." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross, pp.443–453. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1070
  • Mack, John. "Madagascar." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross, pp.431–436. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1067a
  • Mangieri, Tina. "Fashion, Transnationality, and Swahili Men." In African Dress: Fashion, Agency, Performance, edited by Karen Tranberg Hansen and D. Soyini Hansen, pp.153–168. Dress, Body, Culture series. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013. Berg Fashion Library, 2013. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/9781474280068/HANSEN0015
  • Renne, Elisha P. "The Hijab as Moral Space in Northern Nigeria." In African Dress: Fashion, Agency, Performance, edited by Karen Tranberg Hansen and D. Soyini Hansen, pp.92–108. Dress, Body, Culture series. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013. Berg Fashion Library, 2013. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/9781474280068/HANSEN0010
  • Wyk, Gary van. "Nguni, Zulu, and Xhosa Dress and Beadwork." In the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Volume 1, Africa, edited by Joanne B. Eicher and Doran H. Ross, pp.513–518. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2010. Berg Fashion Library, 2010. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch1080
Discussion questions:
  • Describe similarities and differences between the history and uses of textiles in West Africa compared to East Africa.
  • What types of beads are used for adorning garments in eastern and southern Africa? Describe how they first came into use and how those uses have changed over time.
  • Describe how Muslims in Africa successfully resisted changes in dress during European colonization and how the globalization of Islamic dress is still an influence today.

 

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