Tuesday, December 8, 2009

final paper: fashion blogs

For my final paper, I want to examine the imagined community of fashion bloggers, specifically the 13-year old blogger phenomenon Tavi Williams and her blog “style rookie”, and how this inherently networked community reconfigures the individual subject. My driving question, in essence, is: What is the role of the individual subject in the network of independent fashion bloggers? In one specific case, how does the transcendence of the blog of a 13-year old “style rookie” from network-fame to industry-fame position the network community with the real-life community? In other words, what happens when the fan rises to fame and how does that reconfigure the role of the network and the role of the individual within it?
I will tackle this question by first engaging the blog itself and how the individual functions within its postmodern construction. I will work with Jameson’s text on Postmodernism to analyze the specificities of the blog and how it relates to subjectivity and affect. One passage I have found relevant is:

“What replaces these various depth models is for the most part a conception of
practices, discourses, and textual play, whose new syntagmatic structures we
will examine later on; let it suffice now to observe that here too depth is
replaced by surface, or by multiple surfaces (what if often called
intertextuality is in that sense no longer a matter of depth” (Postmodernism 12)

Fashion blogs, as epitomized by the much-adored Style Rookie prototype, engage in a simultaneous replacement of depth by surface and a necessarily deep passion for the material that drives the process of free labor How does the passion and free labor of the blogger fit into affect’s supposedly waning state?

Therefore, I must connect Jameson to Tiziana Terranova and her analysis of the dynamics of network culture and free labor. I want to look at Terranova’s notion of the priviledging of process over structure and nonlinear flows of information.

In addition to engaging the specific blog (http://tavi-thenewgirlintown.blogspot.com/), I would like to examine the impact of her blog on both the blogger/fan community and the fashion community itself. Both are inextricably linked because her facilitation and augmentation of a networked community of individual fans (all under the mass of “fashion bloggers” who share a love for web-surfing and Comme des Garcons yet perform the act of posting regular assertions of individuality) led to her rise to fame and enabled her to re-influence the very community she worships. For example, Tavi has been featured on the cover of fashion magazines, interviewed for others, and one of her favorite lines, Rodarte, sites her has the influence for their new collaboration with Target. How does this actualization both limit and expand the reach of the imagined community?

A further question this will lead me to examine is: How does this interaction between bloggers and “actual” producers in/members of the fashion industry maintain or break down a performative hierarchy?

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