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Alan Tully, Chair 128 Inner Campus Dr., Stop B7000, GAR 1.104 Austin, TX 78712-1739 • 512-471-3261

Gender Symp.: “Fashioning Fictions: Transnational Gazes and the Production of Romance in Asian/American Bridal Photography”

Fri, March 30, 2012 • 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM • GAR 4.100

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A talk by Nhi T. Lieu, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of American Studies, Asian American Studies, Women's and Gender Studies, UT Austin

Located in a suburban strip east of Los Angeles, the informal but popularly known destination called the “Asian Bridal District” was created to meet the range of needs for couples desiring a full-service experience. The bridal shops that line Temple City’s main street offers dreams and fantasies with bridal make-overs, photography, attire rentals, videography, and much more. These bridal salons however, offer more than clothing that symbolize culture and ethnicity, they also sell bourgeois images of wealth and fantasies of romantic love in the form of hair and make-up makeovers for studio and fashion photography. Getting married began to take on new meanings that involve undergoing ethnic, aesthetic, and class transformations for both bride and groom in an increasingly image-driven industry.

This study closely examines bridal makeovers, the visual production of bodily transformations that take place with these practices, and the documentation of those transformations through the aesthetics of bridal photography. I situate these embodied practices at a juncture in globalization whereby the perceived rise of Asia along with the transnational flows throughout the Pacific Rim have gained immense popularity.

A bride and groom’s wedding day not only represents a rite of passage but one that compels them to seek “tradition” and “culture.” Problematizing the gaze between the West and the East as well as the homeland and the diaspora, my study examines the classed performances of masculinity and femininity to propose that technology enables the imagining of social mobility while visual culture produces aspirational, romantic, and utopian images of transcendence for Asians and Asian Americans.

The Symposium on Gender, History, and Sexuality has been a fixture in Department of History since 2001, offering a forum for graduate students and faculty to present papers and works-in-progress for discussion in a relaxed and collegial atmosphere.

Refreshments will be provided. No RSVP needed; free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Program Coordinators Valerie Ann Martinez (vamartinez@utexas.edu) and Allison "Alley" Schottenstein (alleys@utexas.edu)

Sponsored by: Symposium on Gender, History, and Sexuality


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