PDP – Reflection of Constellation

To begin with I was quite apprehensive about the constellation sessions. I didn’t understand why I was learning about things which, at the time, I believed were not relevant to my specific subject area of textiles. As constellation carried on, I began to see that though some of the topics we were talking about were not relevant to my specialism, they would help me in the future. Whether this be, how to talk about my work in a more academic way or how to evaluate my work. There were definitely sessions which I did not like, but there were also sessions which I enjoyed.

One constellation lecture which I really enjoyed was Cath Davies ‘Teenage Kicks – Cultural Approaches to Dr. Martens Boots.’ The lecture explained that when Dr. Martens were first produced they were originally designed as workwear, the target audience included policemen and even OAPs! They were and were advertised as ‘comfortable’ and sturdy not fashionable. We then looked at how young people in different scenes and groups adopted the brand and claimed it, changing its entire image. Therefore, the function of Dr. Martens was only the starting point, the different connotations were the focus. Throughout the decades the Dr. Marten boots have meant and represented different scenes. In the 60s they were the image of skinheads and mods, in the 70s the punks claimed them, if you wore them in the 80s you were a Goth and in the 90s they were seen as a piece of Britpop and grunge iconography.

This being my favourite constellation lecture, I decided to choose Cath’s option for constellation in term two. Her option was called ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit: Subcultures and Street Style.’ I was intrigued about the main theme of the option. We were told we would be introduced to subcultures such as Goths, Punks, Teds etc. We would use these subcultures as case studies for academic theories and concepts. For me, this made it easier to learn these key concepts, as we were able to visualise what we were learning about.

Cath made it feel easier to evaluate the different images we were given. We learnt a strategy where we would split our information into three columns; Describe the characteristics of the image, Analysis of the meanings/connotations and Theoretical underpinning/Academic studies. I was very thankful for being taught this simple yet effective method as I feel that evaluating and academic writing has never been a strong point for me. It is something which I was quite nervous about when we started the constellation sessions yet I feel much more at ease now.

At the moment I am writing my essay for constellation. I decided to base my essay on the skinhead subculture. At the beginning I wanted to focus on Kate Moss and create an essay based on three inspiring images I had found. However, when it came to evaluating the images, I struggled to incorporate all of the academic studies which we had learnt about. I felt that I should concentrate on something which was more relevant to the option I had chosen. I spoke to Cath during a tutorial about this decision and she confirmed that she thought this was a better idea.

Overall I have enjoyed the constellation sessions, I have found them interesting and helpful for my work in Textiles. I feel that I am already able to evaluate my personal work in a better and more beneficial way.