Constellation this year has been a more enjoyable experience and I feel that I have learnt a lot about academic studies. My study group for first term was ”Goddess and Monsters”. The topics that arrived in this study group were fascinating to me and have really influenced my topic for my dissertation. I felt that I could link it to my practice directly and this will allow me to develop my textiles work in relation to gender etc. The study group started by looking at the construct of glamour and what made a glamorous female. This concept looked at a range of influences and ideas in relation to glamour. I felt that looking at aspects such as Pygmalion and iconic film stars allowed me have a deeper understanding of it all. I found the correlation between the construction of a glamorous female in a much older piece of work (Pygmalion) and the modern celebrity fascinating and almost unchanging. Some of the key concepts around a glamorous female are soft, passive, self-contained, flawless and unobtainable. I found it interesting to see how some of these influences had come up in my life and see how I constructed myself without even realising.

I am a feminist and looking into how women are suppose to be passive and inanimate was a passionate topic to me. I felt a real interest in the topic and wanted to find out more about constructs of this idea. Therefore when researching into my dissertation I was shocked to find that passive and doll like influences were put into children’s clothing and products. Being able to bring in concepts that I learnt about in the study group gives me more confidence in my writing.

I was also particularly interested in an essay about Strawberry Shortcake doll in relation to odour. It emphasises the idea of proper odour to young girls. I felt that this article allowed me to turn to the concept of self-contained bodies in relation to the glamorous and the monstrous female. I feel like I need to more research into this for my dissertation as I feel I have only scratched the surface.

Alexander McQueen has always been a designer that I find inspiring and fascinating. His work and concepts have always amazed me. So to see his work in relation to the study group really helped me to further understand the key concepts we had been learning about. Seeing how his work challenges some dominant concepts surrounding the ideal female body. Due to the study group allowing me a deeper understanding of his work in relation to the female body it has built my confidence so I can use it in my dissertation.

When first tackling the proposal I was unsure what the content would be. I knew that I wanted to use my practice in relation to some topics learnt in the study group. Therefore I left it quite broad and came up with question of “How does textiles affect gender?” I knew I wanted to include Alexander McQueen’s work to see key concepts in relation to fashion and art. However I did struggle in the beginning and I think I almost feared it all. Therefore I went to an academic skills workshop about the proposal. It really helped to pick apart each section and I understood what I needed in each part. After the session I felt more confident in the whole matter and I started my research. I started board reading into gender as a whole and then I found more specific reading. Two books that really developed my research were The Gendered Object and Unzipping Gender. The gendered object allowed me to see how gender and gender ideals were placed on objects as well as people. I was particularly interested in the articles about children as it shows how rigid society is about gender stereotypes as they are being put on children. Unzipping Gender really highlighted the perception of men and women because of how transvestites use gender stereotypes to portray a certain gender.

Even though I had done a fair amount of research I was still worrying about it. This held me back because I didn’t start writing until much later on because I feared I didn’t have enough research so I just kept reading. However when I did start writing I found gaps in my research or possible places for extra exploration. I feel that I need to do more research into the Surrealist art movement as I feel this would be extremely relevant to my work as they used the female body in a lot of their work. I also feel that I didn’t do enough research into specific garments of artist such as McQueen and I feel that this would allow me to further relate the concepts to my practice as I could look directly at materials used.

I feel that I have learnt a lot about academic studies this year and about myself. I understand more about how I work and I feel this will help me greatly when writing the actual dissertation. I feel that I have found some concepts that I would like to work on and this is my starting point.