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Seriously stylish: academic femininities and the politics of fashion and feminism in academia

Donaghue, N 2017 , 'Seriously stylish: academic femininities and the politics of fashion and feminism in academia', in AS Elias and R Gill and C Scharff (eds.), Aesthetic Labour , Palgrave Macmillan, London, p. 410.

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What does one wear to work in the life of the mind? The establishment of ‘seriousness’ as a cardinal academic virtue is reinforced via a series of distinctions between the high-minded concerns worthy of scholarly pursuit, and the materialistic, venal and/or frivolous concerns of secular life. The historical marginalisation of women in academia is also reinforced by these distinctions—despite the mass entry of women into academia over the past 40 years, a masculine hegemony continues to set the terms on which women can be accepted into and succeed within academia, and ‘feminine’ interests and concerns are treated with suspicion and/or contempt (Bagilhole 2002). Yet although the force of male hegemony in the academy is considerable, it is by no means uncontested; for many decades, women have fought against the assumption that academic recognition is contingent on eschewing femininity and have sought to find modes of embodiment that acknowledge the presence of women in academia as women (Showalter 1997). Women in academia thus face a dilemma in crafting and communicating what we might think of as (borrowing from Gill and Scharff 2011) ‘academic femininities’—modes of self-presentation that allow them to simultaneously address the requirement to demonstrate intellectual seriousness, while also refusing to accept the traditional exclusion of markers of femininity from the academy.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Donaghue, N
Keywords: aesthetic labour, femininities, fashion, postfeminism, academia
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
DOI / ID Number: 10.1057/978-1-137-47765-1_13
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 The Author

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