Citation

Gesture and Longing: Producing Desire through Movement in the Early Modeling Industry

Abstract | Word Stems | Keywords | Association | Citation | Similar Titles



Abstract:

ASA’s call begins with a reference to Robert Johnson’s crossroads, a site of commercial transaction where (legend has it) Johnson exchanged his soul for musical genius. My research explores the ‘devil’ at Robert Johnson’s crossroads: the commodification of culture, where use value becomes exchange value. In other words, my paper references the ‘seduction and danger’ mentioned in ASA’s meeting call: the seductions and dangers of commodified forms of mass culture.

In particular, my paper explores one aspect of a larger transnational research project on the history of the commercial modeling industry, with an emphasis on the modeling of clothing. In the late 19th century, the word ‘model’ referenced either a specific item of clothing, such as a style of jacket; the word did not refer to a person who demonstrated commodities before a potential buyer. The term ‘model’ is a product of the 1920s, as this American term overtook the French ‘mannequin’ to describe both an inanimate fixture and the young women who, after 1908, began to wear clothing ‘models’ for wholesale and high-end buyers. (These first U.S. mannequins were transnational commodities in themselves, by the way--young women from London’s couture houses who began performing in Florence Zeigfeld’s NY stage shows).

In this ASA paper, I will take the transition from the inanimate ‘model’ (the show window fixture) to the animate ‘model’ (the living, moving human) in an effort to think through the relationship between kinesthetics and commodification. What is the history of specific gestures, movements, and facial expressions of the clothing model as they became standardized through the early years of the modeling industry, in the 19teens and 1920s? How was corporeal movement central to the process of producing consumer longing, whether that movement was observed in real time (as in a salon, for example) or in representation (as in advertising photography)?

I will address these questions through an exploration of recent work on theories of affect (Sarah Ahmed, Irene Matthis) in relationship to the related, yet distinct, conversation unfolding concerning ‘public feelings’ (Ann Cvetkovitch, Lauren Berlant). These theories of emotion, feeling, and affect have for the most part ignored the production of commodified forms of ‘public feeling,’ yet the desire for commodities, to become the persons that commodities promise, has been central to consumer capitalism. Models perform the labor of producing these feelings in an audience, and they do this through human movement. The paper, then, historicizes a specific case of the central importance of the relationship between kinesthetics, emotion, and commodification.

The primary sources for this presentation include archival sources (Lejaren a Hiller papers; Billy Rose Theatre collection); contemporary periodical literature; memoirs; and advertising imagery from the 1920s. A likely case study will be the beginnings of the John Powers modeling agency in 1922 as a response to the move within print advertising to photographic-based illustration, and the resulting merging for market for advertising models.
Convention
Need a solution for abstract management? All Academic can help! Contact us today to find out how our system can help your annual meeting.
Submission - Custom fields, multiple submission types, tracks, audio visual, multiple upload formats, automatic conversion to pdf.Review - Peer Review, Bulk reviewer assignment, bulk emails, ranking, z-score statistics, and multiple worksheets!
Reports - Many standard and custom reports generated while you wait. Print programs with participant indexes, event grids, and more!Scheduling - Flexible and convenient grid scheduling within rooms and buildings. Conflict checking and advanced filtering.
Communication - Bulk email tools to help your administrators send reminders and responses. Use form letters, a message center, and much more!Management - Search tools, duplicate people management, editing tools, submission transfers, many tools to manage a variety of conference management headaches!
Click here for more information.

Association:
Name: American Studies Association Annual Meeting
URL:
http://www.theasa.net


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p244839_index.html
Direct Link:
HTML Code:

MLA Citation:

Brown, Elspeth. "Gesture and Longing: Producing Desire through Movement in the Early Modeling Industry" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hyatt Regency, Albuquerque, New Mexico, <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p244839_index.html>

APA Citation:

Brown, E. H. "Gesture and Longing: Producing Desire through Movement in the Early Modeling Industry" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hyatt Regency, Albuquerque, New Mexico <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p244839_index.html

Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: ASA’s call begins with a reference to Robert Johnson’s crossroads, a site of commercial transaction where (legend has it) Johnson exchanged his soul for musical genius. My research explores the ‘devil’ at Robert Johnson’s crossroads: the commodification of culture, where use value becomes exchange value. In other words, my paper references the ‘seduction and danger’ mentioned in ASA’s meeting call: the seductions and dangers of commodified forms of mass culture.

In particular, my paper explores one aspect of a larger transnational research project on the history of the commercial modeling industry, with an emphasis on the modeling of clothing. In the late 19th century, the word ‘model’ referenced either a specific item of clothing, such as a style of jacket; the word did not refer to a person who demonstrated commodities before a potential buyer. The term ‘model’ is a product of the 1920s, as this American term overtook the French ‘mannequin’ to describe both an inanimate fixture and the young women who, after 1908, began to wear clothing ‘models’ for wholesale and high-end buyers. (These first U.S. mannequins were transnational commodities in themselves, by the way--young women from London’s couture houses who began performing in Florence Zeigfeld’s NY stage shows).

In this ASA paper, I will take the transition from the inanimate ‘model’ (the show window fixture) to the animate ‘model’ (the living, moving human) in an effort to think through the relationship between kinesthetics and commodification. What is the history of specific gestures, movements, and facial expressions of the clothing model as they became standardized through the early years of the modeling industry, in the 19teens and 1920s? How was corporeal movement central to the process of producing consumer longing, whether that movement was observed in real time (as in a salon, for example) or in representation (as in advertising photography)?

I will address these questions through an exploration of recent work on theories of affect (Sarah Ahmed, Irene Matthis) in relationship to the related, yet distinct, conversation unfolding concerning ‘public feelings’ (Ann Cvetkovitch, Lauren Berlant). These theories of emotion, feeling, and affect have for the most part ignored the production of commodified forms of ‘public feeling,’ yet the desire for commodities, to become the persons that commodities promise, has been central to consumer capitalism. Models perform the labor of producing these feelings in an audience, and they do this through human movement. The paper, then, historicizes a specific case of the central importance of the relationship between kinesthetics, emotion, and commodification.

The primary sources for this presentation include archival sources (Lejaren a Hiller papers; Billy Rose Theatre collection); contemporary periodical literature; memoirs; and advertising imagery from the 1920s. A likely case study will be the beginnings of the John Powers modeling agency in 1922 as a response to the move within print advertising to photographic-based illustration, and the resulting merging for market for advertising models.


Similar Titles:
An Unworthy Social Movement? Evaluating and Applying the Media Dependence Model on New York Times News Coverage of the Movement in Vieques

Modeling the Determinants of Industry Political Power: Industry Winners in the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981

Is the Fashion Model a Person? Desired Objects, Repressed Subjects: Understanding the International Fashion Model Business

Whither the Civil Rights Movement? Towards an Empirical Model of Movement Decline.


 
All Academic, Inc. is your premier source for research and conference management. Visit our website, www.allacademic.com, to see how we can help you today.