Brown Bag Avian Affinities and Refashioning Roles: Feathers, Millinery and American Bird Protection 10 May 2017.Wednesday, 12:00PM - 1:00PM Emily Gephart, School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University

In his Arcades Project, Walter Benjamin argued that fashion’s pursuit of novelty functioned in modern society as an attempt to stave off the inevitability of death. Yet, in millinery fashion at the turn of the 20th century, death was often conspicuously visible: popular plumed hats provoked crises in global extinction, inspired passionate advocacy for bird protection and trade restriction, and led—eventually—to wholesale changes in fashionable tastes. The story of how bird death led to rejection of fashion’s mandates is neither swift, nor direct, nor simple, but reveals a complex politics of hybridity, in which roles, refusal, and refashioning play off of one another in dynamic exchange.

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