Lauren S. Cardon – Fashioning Character – Style, Performance, And Identity In Contemporary American Literature
Lauren S. Cardon, an Associate Professor of English at the University of Alabama has taken her passion for her chosen field to explore an American trajectory in fashion. The result is, Fashioning Character – Style, Performance, And Identity In Contemporary American Literature, an engaging book examining works by Sylvia Plath, Jack Kerouac, Toni Morrison, Sherman Alexie, and Aleshia Brevard, among others. Lauren Cardon shows how we become what we wear. Over the twentieth century, the American fashion industry diverged from its roots in Paris, expanding and attempting to reach as many consumers as possible. Fashion became a tool for social mobility. During the late twentieth century, the fashion industry offered something even more valuable to its consumers: the opportunity to explore and perform. She illustrates how American fashion, with its array of possibilities, has offered a vehicle for curating public personas. Characters explore a host of identities as fashion allows them to deepen their relationships with ethnic or cultural identity, to reject the social codes associated with economic privilege, or to forge connections with family and community. These temporary transformations, or performances, show that identity is a process constantly negotiated and questioned, never completely fixed.
Mention the name “Betsey Johnson” and almost every woman from the age of 15 to 75 can rapturously recall a favorite dress or outfit; whether worn for a prom, a wedding, or just to stand out from the crowd in a colorful way. They may also know her as a renegade single mom who palled around with Edie Sedgwick, Twiggy, and The Velvet Underground, or even as a celebrity contestant on Dancing with the Stars. Betsey is also famous for her iconic pink stores (she had 65 shops across the US) and for her habit of doing cartwheels and splits down the runway at the close of her fashion shows. Throughout her decades-long career, she’s taken pride in producing fun but rule-breaking clothing at an accessible price point. What they might not know is that she built an empire from scratch, and brought stretch clothing to the masses in the 80s and 90s. As you will hear, Betsey is quite a character, she definitely marches to the beat of her own percussion, first of all, her publicist had the task of making sure she physically stayed in one place when recording began. From there on, Betsey Johnson directed the conversation in as many directions as the number of minutes the mics were open – a lot! As much as the resulting unedited dialogue may be of interest to cultural archivists, we quickly realized a drastic edit would be far more interesting to a regular listener. This may well be one of the few times, you’ll hear Norman B frequently attempt to try and ask a fully-formed question.
Also in the show new music from the truly delightful Hannah Coombes and Olly Shelton who present as Pela. These two Brighton-based creatives have been high on our list of favorites for a while now. Their latest EP, Little Ceremonies is yet another example of how talented they are, making well-crafted music, embracing Olly’s marvelous editing and production skills and Hannah’s unique, memorable voice. We have chosen the title cut and used part of, I Hope You Are Happy as incidental music. Do yourself a huge favor and check out Pela’s exceptional music.