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Institute for the Humanities pres.

Fictions of Fabric: Art, Literature, Design

Panel discussion with Anne Lafont, Megan Sweeney, and Courtney Wilder, with an introduction by Martha Jones and comments by Jean Hebrard, Katie Lennard, and Susan Siegfried

Lafont Lafont
- Susan Siegfried (History of Art): Chair

- Martha Jones (History, Afroamerican and African Studies): Introduction
- Anne Lafont (University of East Paris/Marne-la-Vallée, Norman Freeling Visiting Fellow at the Institute for the Humanities): “The Fabric as Skin Tissue : Layering Race”
- Megan Sweeney (English language and Literature, Afroamerican and African Studies): "Selvedge, Salvage".
- Courtney Wilder (Graduate Student, History of Art): “Printing and Representing Fashionable Novelty, 1820-1850”

- Jean Hébrard (EHESS, Visiting fellow at the Institute for the Humanities), Katie Lennard (Graduate Student, American Culture), and Susan Siegfried (History of Art): Comment

Jesper Svenbro in Le Métier de Zeus explains that to weave (uphainö) was one of the most prolific metaphors in Ancient Greece. The form textis referred not only to the production of an oral text, but also to the complex links between lyrical poets and their public. “Fabric” has the same fecundity in our modern languages, but it seems to speak less of its process of production than of the object produced. In the racialized social world constructed with the Atlantic expansion of the West, fabric has served as a second skin, hiding/transforming/exposing the varieties of the skin underneath. When fabric is produced as a fashion artifact that can be exchanged for a slave on the African market, when it is painted on a canvas in relationship to the skin it offers/refuses to the spectators of colonial territories, when it is literally and metaphorically called upon to define the borders of bodies and selves, fabric interlaces design, art, and literature. Our round-table will explore some of these many-textured layers of fabric.

Anne Lafont is a visiting fellow at the Institute for the Humanities, an assistant professor of modern art history at the University of Paris-Marne la Vallée, and a scholarly advisor in the field of the history of art history at the French National Institute of Art History (INHA, 2007-2012).

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