The context and concepts you mention here are quite well defined but also a little broad so that over the summer you will have to unpack them and pick apart in more detailed and assertive ways – still, the focus on Hollister is excellent and offers lot of potential. The idea of capitalism, consumerism and post-modern forms of representation and practice are an interesting hypotheses and I am clear about how far you want to go with this as a critical / analytical dissertation which examines the complexities of specific instances of consumerism, identity and the hyper-real. Whilst the proposal is very well formed (good start on lit searches but they also need some clarity – for key texts do some key word searches using Google books and scholar) all it does up until this point is to offer a rather general way to conceptualise these issues. Critically locating the three key areas (1. Capitalism, 2. Consumerism and 3. Post-modernity) may well offer a better starting point as you need to begin to look at key critical works in media and cultural study which deal with the paradigms you are most interested in. All of this can then be ‘plugged into’ a clear methodology (questionnaires, interviews etc.) as well as contextual readings of work and advertising campaigns or branding strategies used by Hollister. Performing some key word searches at library and/or doing journal searches and clarifying your methods will enable you to begin to concentrate on just how interesting and at times well-conceived a more detailed intervention is – the real vs virtual dimension may well work out as a way to begin. I know this is only a beginning but keep on unpacking how and why issues complicate one another and reposition aspects of visual representation. This will have to be well illustrated in your research blog over the autumn term and you will need to keep it imaginative yet realistic for the manageability of the project. I think you need to address the logic of the research and think about information management – A long side of Baudrillards hyper-real perhaps engage with a concept such as Pierre Bourdieu’s ‘habitus’ and/or think about Roland Barthes mythologies / semiotics as a critical / theoretical framework and discourse method as well as thinking about the primary research in more depth. Also, begin to think about building up a critical and theoretical knowledge base/dictionary. I like some of the ideas around primary research and we can discuss in detail when we meet so think about the practicalities of this too. You need to consult a larger number and variety of academic sources and try to be as clear as you can about HOW you are going to go about this. Reading, listing keywords, collecting visual and textual clippings and data throughout summer and into the autumn term will assist with this and create a dissertation proposal with far more clarity. Do not hesitate to get in touch if you need more advice.
June 27th 2013