New materialism posits clothing as a material agent, part of a networked self, existing in ever-changing space and time. This interview-based project explores clothing’s bodily relationships through the work of new materialist theorists Jane Bennett, Daniel Miller, and Ian Hodder, and queer and feminist theorists Jack Halberstam, Sara Ahmed, and Rebecca Coleman. By “queering” the materiality of clothing, I argue that both queerness and materials exist in a liminal space. The orientation toward the material clothing in my research leads to becoming through bodily connection with the unseen and seen. My review of related literature examines semiotic work that dominates current research on clothing, introduces materialist approaches to clothing focused on memory and “thing agency,” and finally, consumer shifts towards secondhand clothing. These themes emerged in my twelve interviews with people who design and sew clothes. Each interview focused on a single garment meaningful to them. Interview results provide examples of the ways clothing is important beyond the aesthetic, has agency and reciprocal relationships of care, and extends personhood. Ultimately, the stories of participants demonstrate the ways clothing and bodies act upon each other, giving care and changing over time. I argue that orientation towards the material and recognition of reciprocal bodily relationships leads to becoming that understands the body as something in constant flux.
Sociology and Anthropology
Lang, Ella, "Fabric and Flesh: A Tactile Exploration of Personhood and Becoming" (2021). Senior Independent Study Theses. Paper 9451.
Anthropology | Other Arts and Humanities | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology
new materialism, queer theory, materiality, material agency, bodily extension, clothing, becoming
Bachelor of Arts
Senior Independent Study Thesis
© Copyright 2021 Ella Lang