Topic Seminars introduce students to the aesthetic concepts, art historical frameworks, and theoretical scholarship relevant to contemporary textile practices. Through lectures, discussions, and extensive readings drawn from the emerging discourse on textile history and theory, art and fashion history, anthropology, literary criticism, and contemporary craft theory, students gain awareness of historical precedents and global contexts of their work. Topic Seminars are offered for upper division students in the fall only and have rotating content including Thinking Textiles and Chromophilia.
Textile metaphors abound; we speak of the "worldwide web," "spinning a tale," a "thread of discourse," and a "network of ideas." The definition of textile art, once securely bound to utility, has given way to a practice based loosely on a constellation of material, technique, and concept. Textile structures pose distinctive physical possibilities and limitations, but more importantly foster cognitive processes and suggest abstract meanings. Building through the interplay of threads and multiple intersection points is inherently a time-consuming and additive process. It builds a cohesive whole from disparate, equal elements. This arrangement offers a blueprint for thinking about interconnectivity and nonhierarchical structures in linguistic, social, and interpersonal arenas. This Topic Seminar is designed for students working in any discipline who are interested in investigating textile sensibilities such as touch, eroticism, staining, domesticity, and mourning through readings, discussions, written assignments, and critiques.