Freaks and Monsters

Pushing the boundaries of fashion

  • 5 April 2022
  • Author: Mark Berthold
  • Number of views: 630
Freaks and Monsters

by Shannon Takahashi

What does fashion have to do with the odd, bizarre, and taboo? To answer that question, Andy Reilly of the Dept. of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) teamed up with Kathryn Hoffmann of UH Languages and Literature of Europe and the Americas to co-chair a two-day symposium, “Fashion and…Freaks and Monsters.”

The venue was the annual “Fashion and…” series, originating from the University of Minnesota, which features a different topic each year and where fashion scholars can gather to share their work.

This year’s symposium was hosted online March 9-10 and explored fashion and its connections to the outcasts and misfits who exist on the margins of modern societal standards.

The two keynote presentations, “Harry Styles:  Fashion’s Gender Changeling” and “Occupying Masculinities on the Edge: Crip Dressing and Desiring Disability,” set the tone for a wildly interesting and diverse range of topics, including meat dresses, women’s shapewear and changing norms, fashion and Jewish men, freaky footwear, prosthetic limbs, fashioning sex dolls, and augmented reality. The speakers hailed from Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Hungary, New Zealand, and the United States.

“This was a great opportunity to collaborate across colleges with Kathryn,” says Andy. “Despite the challenges of the past two years, we were able to still gather to share our work and share our aloha with the world.”

Likewise, “Working with Andy on a symposium that brought together such a diverse group of scholars from UHM and around the world was a true pleasure,” says Kathryn. “I am particularly happy that CTAHR and CALL students had the opportunity to see innovative scholarship that crosses the boundaries of fashion, performance, nutrition, gender studies, art, marketing, and the history of technology. I hope it will inspire our students to see their own learning in interdisciplinary ways.”

Several UH Manoa professors also presented at the symposium, offering their unique perspectives on the ever-changing world of fashion:

  • Jinan Banna of the Dept. of Human Nutrition, Food, and Animal Sciences presented “Challenging Diet-related Norms Though Consumption of Okara Food Waste.”
  • Lori Yancura of FCS presented “Brandy and Summer Gloves: Advanced Style as Defiance of Old Age.”
  • Chris Beaule of General Education spoke about “Pishtacos, Colonial Traumas, and Encounters with Threatening Whites in Indigenous Andean South America.”

“I really enjoyed presenting and interacting with people from so many different disciplines” said Jinan. “It’s great to consider how our interests overlap.”

Lori added, “Participation in this conference was a great way for me to stretch my intellectual wings. I learned from the other speakers and hope to submit my presentation to a peer-reviewed journal within the next few months. Multi-disciplinary work is not only possible, it's professionally enriching and enjoyable.”

Photo by John Smith, courtesy of Jordan Wolfson and David Zwirner.

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