February 15, 2017

Canadian scholar to discuss fashion and media, research on design education

Arlene Oak, a visiting scholar from the University of Alberta, will deliver two presentations the week of Feb. 20.

The talks are 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Feb. 21 in the Home Economics Building, Room 31, and Feb. 23 in Richards Hall, Room 15. Both are free and open to the public.

Oak researches how spoken language in natural settings shapes the creation and reception of architecture, design and fine art. Her background in studio-based design practice, design history and social psychology informs her focus on the relationships between objects, language and perceptions of personal and social identity.

The Feb. 21 lecture, “Image-Fashion-Text… And Talk: Discourses of Dress and Authority in What Not to Wear,” is based on Roland Barthes’ book, “The Fashion System.” In the book, Barthes explores what happens when an object encounters or is converted into language.

Oak will expand on Barthes’ insights, connecting them with the makeover television show “What Not to Wear” and a specific episode from the series. She will consider how dress is mediated in these contexts by being translated into images and written and spoken words, alongside the show makeover candidates.

In the Feb. 22 presentation, Oak will explore how university-level education in architecture and design is about making objects and learning how professional practitioners behave. She will consider how this education can be an effective site for exploring the innovative outcomes of creative practice and where powerful social norms may be revealed.

This public lecture is co-hosted by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design and the School of Art, Art History and Design, with support from the Research Council Visiting Scholar Program.