Invisible man: Literature and the body in design practice

Tarryn Handcock


As a culturally produced text, literature is seen as a lens with the potential to draw attention to the values, ideas, and beliefs that underlie a society. In this paper three key themes in H.G. Wells’ novel The Invisible Man (1897), are discussed: firstly, the ways that the body may be fashioned through dress and individual practices; secondly, how wearable artefacts may socialize bodies and symbolically communicate; and thirdly, how the fashioned body may challenge personal and cultural boundaries. Collectively, these issues draw attention to the relational network of body, culture, and dress. These relationships are highly relevant to design research in fashion, dress, and wearable artefacts, which all use the body as a site. This study is seen as being an example of how literature may be utilized as a speculative device to encourage experimental and creative design research practices. My doctoral research, which emphasizes the body and skin as sites for design, is used as an example of a cross-disciplinary approach that draws on the issues raised through an analysis of the novel.

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