CSA National Symposium 2014: Day 2

Richard Martin. © 1988, Gerhard Jurkovic.

Richard Martin. © 1988, Gerhard Jurkovic.

The second day of the symposium seemed to go so quickly and was packed with so much information that I find it hard to create a neat package of information. The day began with a panel on the history of the CSA. What a wealth of information! The women and men involved really strove to create a foundation for the association that has thrived since. Many of the founders and initial members of CSA are apart of the bibliographies that are integral to the interpretation of dress and textiles. For example, Richard Martin, former curator at the Museum at FIT and the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was the first editor of the CSA’s journal Dress. So many anecdotes and so little time. The next speaker, Pravina Shukla, provided an overview of what the future of dress history could and should look like.

Where do you as an avid researcher, student, professor, or museum profesional think dress history can ghttp://youtu.be/3qVPNONdF58o? Pravina Shukla, an Associate Professor of Folklore at Indiana University Bloomington, describes dress as the “most democratic items we make and own”. The biggest takeaway from her lecture was that dress historians should broaden their scope of research to the dress of the everyday man, woman, and child. She put emphasis on understanding and writing about cultural dress. While Shukla left many questions on the table to be answered by future research the following panel explored current and future uses of technology, database programs, and making smaller collections accessible.

The panel entitled Sharing Our Collections Online: Why and How might have a straightforward title but was overflowing with information. The five presenters in this panel were collection mangers and curators who introduced animation, metadata, database software, teamwork, and ingenuity to create innovative digital collections. While all of the institutions that presented had not completed their digital archive they had created a great benchmark in various ways. The emphasis was on fostering a community of small collections and allowing it to grow online. For more information on the amazing work of many small collections the presenter Arden Kirkland from Vassar College, put together all the links and resources mentioned in the presentation on her blog: http://pages.vassar.edu/vccc/ in the near future.

As the day went on the information was more and more dense. Especially the scholars discussing unknown costume and jewelry designers of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. As a student it is easy to give in to the designs of Worth, Poiret, Chanel, Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent but it is of great importance to look outside of the box. Pins and Needles editor Keren Ben-Horin exceeded this goal by looking at Alice Austen who was a 19th century photographer. Austen donated her collection to the Staten Island Historical Society and as a result there are many primary resources available on her, which was not always the case for the scholars that participated in the “Unsung designers”. While abundant the source material that a researcher comes across has to be synthesized. Lauren D. Boumaroun, independent scholar, has begun to work through her source material and interpret dress in science fiction films. Her preliminary approach to studying a genre that is not often explored by scholar is exceptional and will hopefully accumulate into a published work.

While I will not be including a small resources list at the end of each post I would happily put it together by request. If you have questions you would like to ask the presenters at the symposium or want a list of sources/resources please comment below or email me at joytdavis1@gmail.com.

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2 Responses to CSA National Symposium 2014: Day 2

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