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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the figure of the self-made man as expressed through two 2013 costume exhibits—the Rhode Island School of Design Museum’s exhibit on the dandy and the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibit on punk. These exhibits forge a line of continuity between the punk and dandy that hinges on likening the safety pin to the straight pin. This chapter analyzes the differing epistemologies produced by each object in the context of men’s fashion. While the safety pin beckons amateur users and implies danger (while actually preventing it), the straight pin conceals the talent and work of others (the tailor). These objects therefore reveal different relationships to agency and temporality. The two exhibits produce a normative idea of masculinity as premised on spectacularity as performed through self-making and subversion while shifting the conversation away from the racialized contexts in which these practices of tailoring emerged. Material history allows us to nuance spectacularity and its politics.

Keywords: punk, dandy, safety pin, queer, straight pin, spectacularity, masculinity, aesthetics

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