Michael Cepress

COUNTER-COUTURE | Hippie Scholarship

When my brainstorms started running wild and my travels unearthed an amazing slurry of clothes, stories, personalities and histories, the teacher in me wanted to immediately find a way to bring it all to my students. Stories untold are stories lost, and what better venue than the classroom as a home for new ideas, for sharing and learning?

After a few cold calls to departments on campus, it was Professor Phillip Thurtle in the University of Washington’s celebrated CHID program (the Comparative History of Ideas) who opened his office door to me and welcomed a conversation about what I had in mind. Several meetings and proposals later, a new course was born!

Spring Quarter 2012 at UW will feature the debut of my new course, Counter-Couture: Fashion and Style of the American Counter Culture.

To offer you all a taste, below is the course description that I hope leaves prospective students yearning to enroll:
This course will explore the artistry, politics, historical context and ethos of America’s 1960s and 1970s counter-culture through the lens of the era’s fashion and style. Decades of thinking and writing have identified clothing and fashion as a means of marking larger patterns and concepts related to the development and growth of a community or culture. Celebrating and mining the complexity of this particular era with our modern voice of interdisciplinarity, this course will amass the stories, the garments, the archives, the history and the artistry of central figures in the era to create a clearer sense of the cultural trajectory they were part of. Drawing from a comprehensive list of topics that investigate clothing as an art form, as political expression, as a spiritual vehicle, as a transformative tool in performance and other related angles, students and the instructor will team to create individual projects to facilitate research and create a thorough intellectual response to the material at hand.

And as fate should have it, day one of class falls on my birthday, March 26. I can’t help but think that the timing is perfect. I welcome my new year with the birth of this new course!

Posted March 4th, 2012

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