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1915 Suffragists in the Lobby of Hotel Utah with Senator Reed Smoot
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Before the pink knit pussy hats, graphic Black Lives Matter t-shirts, and the red MAGA caps, people have donned clothing to visually proclaim their allegiance to a particular cause. How does clothing influence society and what are the consequences of protest dressing? Identity, memory, protest, and politics intersect in the stitches sewn into fabric. This course reframes needlework as a powerful and political medium and examines how marginalized peoples throughout history have used the language of sewing, embroidery, and textiles to tell their neglected stories. We will explore a taxonomy of terms and first-hand accounts from 15th century Scotland to contemporary Mexico and Namibia, making connections from 19th century suffragettes to the white dress-suits worn in the US Capitol. The language of clothing has helped lift up voices even in the most desperate of circumstances. Through close reading of nonfiction, personal narratives and scholarly articles, we will work to discover how and why the needle has become a weapon of empowerment rather than subjugation. This course will embody multiple forms of expression -- class discussions, writing, and putting needle to fabric.