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Title: Armed glances : the history and culture of sunglasses & cool
Author: Gill-Brown, V.
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2010
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The thesis sets out to explore the enduring and widespread appeal of sunglasses in western popular culture as evident in the fields of fashion, film and advertising. The emergence of sunglasses as a fashion accessory is established through evidence from UK and US fashion magazines of the early Twentieth century, optical trade and professional journals and the collection of sunglasses and tinted spectacles held by the British Optical Association. The strong association in popular culture between sunglasses and contemporary notions of ‘cool’ is explored through analysis of images of sunglasses, consideration of their function as a ‘material agent’, existing histories and theories of ‘cool’, modernity and attendant changes to emotional culture, behaviour and personality. The relationship between sunglasses, vision and the gaze is also considered as the study explores the potential meanings of the shaded eye in these contexts. The study contributes to knowledge by providing a more detailed history of sunglasses emergence and transition to the status of fashion accessory than exists elsewhere and by using sunglasses as an object study (or fragment) from which the phenomenon of ‘cool’ can be examined. Existing perspectives on cool are shown to lack the usefully broad understanding of the appeal of ‘cool’ that sunglasses can provide, in so far as they draw together a number of aspects of cool in one object. The study concludes that this allows us to see both cool and sunglasses as demonstrative of a superior adaptation to the conditions of modernity – a value so desirable and broadly applicable as to help to explain not only the enduring appeal of sunglasses but the increasing significance of cool in western culture.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available