Identity exploration and the building of empathy and self-acceptance through Costume

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Through performance, pedagogical and costumed based ‘geek culture’ contexts, Lorraine Smith will discuss costume as a tool to facilitate identity exploration (including gender) that can build empathy and eventually self-acceptance in the wearer, leading to improved health and well-being. Lorraine will evidence the somatic nature of costume through her performance and pedagogical experiences, with reference to the work of Dr Karen Barbour, Josephine Machon, Sally E. Dean, and the Imagining Autism project. Lorraine will then analyse the art form and subculture of Cosplay and the use of Drag in the recent Channel 4 series Drag SOS to examine the potential for identity exploration and transformation through costume, and the resulting impact on the individual’s understanding of identity construction and development of empathy and self-acceptance. This investigation will make reference to Judith Butler’s perspectives on identity and Rachel Hann’s recent theorising on body and costume through her talk ‘Body-Assemblages’ at the Innovative Costume of the 21st Century symposium 2019. The session will conclude by advocating the potential uses of costume-movement interventions to improve the mental health of young people in educational settings, as well as other contexts and target groups.

This one-day symposium addresses issues around embodiment in learning, education and performer training. Through practical explorations, academic presentations, workshop sessions, artistic interaction and debate the symposium will explore how a somatic-turn in learning, education and training can contribute to a meaningful and critical education to ‘humanize humanity’ ( Morin 1999:10 ) in the context of global and civilisatory crises. The symposium will be followed by a one- day workshop by Prof. Em. Glenna Batson (US/IE). The symposium is organised through the Creative Corporealities Research Group (CCRG) located within the Bath School of Music and Performance.


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