 WS 168B
Dr. Shah
Week 6
Thursday, 11/7/13
 Key Terms & announcements:
 Key Terms:
 Announcements:
 Ideology of separate spheres
 Principle of conspicuous waste
 Principle of vicarious consumption
 Principle of conspicuous leisure
 Commodity fetishism
 Group 4 presenting next Thursday.
 Tracy Chapman, “Moutnain o’ Things”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdF-oiaICZI
 The Victorian Period
 Consumption
 Production
 Consolidation of fashion industry
 The emergence of the commodity as subject
 Separation of spheres (Veblen, pp. 344-5)
“Angel in the house”
Invisibility of female labor
 Debates over luxurious consumption centered on figure of woman and later, homosexual man
 Group 3 Presentation
 The rise of industrialization
 Demographic shifts: rural to cities
 Shifts in labor relations, mechanization
 Shift toward home production (destruction of Indian indigenous textile industries)
 Raw materials and tax revenues coming from colonies
Manchester Cotton: The Victorian Era and Industrialization:
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MllrnSZxTkY
 “dress as an expression of the Pecuniary culture”
Thornstein Veblen (339)
 “Consumption as communication thesis” – fashion most radical expression
Veblen’s principles of consumption demonstrate a shift in thinking about what constitutes
civilization, taste, and beauty:
Commodity cultures has thoroughly transformed attitudes:
Principle of conspicuous waste (340-2)
Perceptions of modernity (342-3)
Read pp. 342-344 (old motives no longer make sense)
Read pp. 344-346 (women’s fashionable dress confirms the economic status of
 “the fetishism of the commodity and its secret”
Karl marx (345)
 1760: French philosopher, Charles de Brosses, coined term “fetishism” to speak of “primitive
religion” (McClintock, 181)
Comte: stage prior to polytheism and then monotheism
fetishism is the attribution of inherent value or powers to an object
 Fetishism
 1867: Marx uses term commodity fetishism to express the obfuscation of labor and social
relations – objects’ value is determined in their relation to one another (value as a social
 1905: Freud uses the term to express the displacement of sexual desire onto alternative objects
or body parts (eg. a foot fetish or a shoe fetish), caused by the subject's confrontation with the
castration complex
(http://www.cla.purdue.edu/academic/engl/theory/psychoanalysis/freud4.html )
 Reading Marx:
 With a partner, find passages and/or quotations that can help us understand the following
From where does the mystical character of the commodity arise?
How do we measure social relations in a commodity culture?
 Anne McClintock’s definition of fetishism (185)
 Social contradiction experienced at an intensely personal level
 The displacement of the contradiction onto an object or person, which becomes the
embodiment of the crisis in value
 The investment of intense passion (erotic or otherwise) in the fetish object
 The repetitious, often ritualistic recurrence of the fetish object in the scene of personal or
historical memory
 Kim Wood, “On My Knees”: http://www.kimwood.org/onmyknees/