Staging queer feelings: the affective economy of fashion photography at the turn of the twenty-first century
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date30/11/2021
“Staging Queer Feelings: The Affective Economy of Fashion Photography at the Turn of the Twenty-first Century” tracks the circulation of queer feelings, moods and atmospheres in alternative fashion magazines in the 1990s and 2000s. It explores, in particular, how Dutch magazine (1994-2002) challenged the aesthetic conventions of mainstream fashion imagery and normative understandings of the body, by suggesting alternative ways to perform masculinity and femininity and imaging queer ways of inhabiting the world. My case studies are fashion editorial stories depicting post-teenage grunge anomie, working-class “obscenity” and intergenerational intimacy. The dissertation argues that through the staging of ambiguous sexual scenarios and styles of bodily performance previously unseen in fashion imagery, magazines like Dutch advanced visual discourses on sexuality, affect, and social life aimed at the dissolution of heteronormative representational conventions in the visual culture of fashion at the turn of the century. In addition to contesting beauty standards and norms of decorum, alternative fashion magazines provoked the readers to question their own sensibility and moral positionings, in this way establishing a new mode of spectatorial engagement among fashion magazine readers. Based on extensive analysis of fashion editorial spreads circulated in the alternative press, the dissertation develops the argument that the fashion photographic image since the mid-1990s has functioned as an interface for the creation of queer world possibilities and the formation of fashion magazine counterpublics. In contrast to other scholars who have used semiotics or psychoanalysis for the study of fashion images, my dissertation employs queer affect theory as a magnifying lens for tackling issues of intimacy, emotional life, and inequality in collective human experience. The project ultimately unsettles dominant (heterosexual, upper and middle-class) histories of fashion imagery and identifies fashion photography as a rich, under-investigated archive for contemporary queer and affect scholarship.