Cornell University

Fashion and Free Speech in the United States

Thursday, April 18, 2024 at 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, 1201

Part of the BCTR Talks at Twelve series.

How we appear in public expresses a great deal about our identities, ideologies, aspirations, and privileges. At the same time, our bodies reflect the regulations and oppressive forces that suppress the freedom to fashion ourselves. As a form of symbolic speech and expressive conduct, how do dress and appearance reveal the limits and possibilities of free speech? How have individuals and communities exposed, challenged, and (re)configured these boundaries across differing social, physical, and digital spaces? In this talk, we will discuss the legal precedents, activist interventions, social conventions, prejudices, and inequalities that have governed both the amplification and silencing of fashioned bodies in the United States.

Denise Nicole Green ’07 is an associate professor of Human Centered Design and director of graduate studies in Fiber Science and Apparel Design at Cornell University where she also directs the Cornell Fashion + Textile Collection. She holds faculty affiliations in the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program, South Asia Program, Department of Anthropology, American Studies Program, LGBT Studies, and the Cornell Institute for Archaeology and Material Studies. Green is an award-winning curator, documentary filmmaker, fashion designer, and writer. She combines ethnographic methods, creative design, and archival research to explore how fashion transforms individuals, communities, and ecologies. Her research has been featured in Women’s Wear Daily, CNN Style, Jezebel, and Time, among other media outlets. Green has published more than 40 academic papers and recently co-authored, with Susan B. Kaiser, the second edition of Fashion and Cultural Studies.

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