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Title: From fig leaves to skinny jeans : how clothes shape our experience of God, ourselves, and everything else
Author: McCarthy, Bryan
ISNI:       0000 0004 6495 2975
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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In the history of sartorial reflection, the usual offerings for human motivations to dress are: protection (i.e. from the elements), modesty, decoration, and socio-political self-expression. The literature on clothing rarely attends, however, to the question of garments' impact on wearers' self-experience. There is some social science research, for example, suggesting that when we wear clothing we associate with individuals who have a high degree of mental focus and attention to detail, it causes us - probably, in most cases, pre-reflectively - to experience ourselves as such and therefore to perform better on tests that measure these qualities. Apart from this research, exploration into the matter, regardless of field, is scant, but it is especially thin in philosophy and theology. This thesis seeks to address the shortfall in these fields by providing at least one model of the human relationship to clothes that, unlike what is currently on offer, accounts for findings like the above. To do so, it draws on the sartorial reflection of the British artist and essayist Eric Gill, who understands clothes as architectural spaces of sorts, as encasements that house our being, and the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, whose philosophy of being and 'thinking about building' can do similar work less explicitly but more robustly. After outlining this new way of looking at humanity's relationship to clothes, the thesis will conclude by discussing some theological implications. In particular, it discusses how the overlap between Gill's sacramental perspective and Heidegger's similar understanding of an inherently meaning-infused 'world' can yield an account of clothes as facilitators (or hinderers) of the attunement or comportment of openness and/or proximity to God through their potential to bear theological resonances.
Supervisor: Pattison, George ; Ward, Graham Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Clothing and dress--Religious aspects ; Clothing and dress--Philosophy ; Phenomenology ; Self-perception--Religious aspects