My research interests include the history of material culture (namely, dress, jewellery and armour) in England, Scotland and France during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, particularly in relation to constructions of gender norms, and the histories of garment production, consumerism and material ecologies. My work furthers methodological approaches and disciplinary perspectives in the field of dress and material culture studies, particularly in relation to object-based approaches and historical dress reconstruction, of which I’m a practitioner.
I am currently a Research Associate at the University of Western Australia working on the ARC-funded research Project Gendering the Italian Wars. In 2020 I will be joining the University of Melbourne as a McKenzie Postdoctoral Research Fellow in History. For more information please see my CV.
Whaling, the Baleen Trade, and the Ecologies of Fashion Innovation in Early Modern Europe: This project examines one of the turning points in early modern fashion innovation and industry: the widespread use of baleen. This research uncovers the story of how baleen irrevocably changed the market for consumer goods, and consequently the European relationship between fashion and ecology, between the years 1500-1800. It will utilise records in British and French collections, alongside experimental and interdisciplinary methodologies like stable isotope anlaysis and mtDNA analysis, to trace the journey this animal product took from whale to toilette. This interdisciplinary project has three objectives: a critical assessment of the economic and environmental impact of the early modern baleen trade; an analysis of the centrality of baleen to the early modern European textile economy; and an analysis of the materiality, consumer choices, and demands that dictated the use of baleen in dress and decorative arts objects. Through collaborations with colleagues in the sciences this project also explores new ways of using scientific and archaeological technologies to examine early modern dress and decorative arts objects.
Shaping Femininity (forthcoming monograph): In January 2018 I completed my PhD at the University of Sydney Australia. My first monograph, Shaping Femininity, expands on this research and it is forthcoming with Bloomsbury Academic/Visual Arts. Shaping Femininity is the first large-scale study of the materiality, production, consumption, and meanings of foundation garments for women in sixteenth and seventeenth-century England. The desirable body during this period was achieved by using four types of foundation garments: bodies and busks, and farthingales and bum-rolls. It was this structured female silhouette, first seen in sixteenth-century fashionable dress, that existed in various extremes in Western Europe and beyond until the early twentieth century. By utilising a wide array of archival and early printed materials, visual sources and material objects, as well as historical reconstruction, Shaping Femininity reorients discussions about female foundation garments by exploring the nuances of these items of material culture in the context of their own times. It argues that these objects of material culture shaped understandings of the female body and of ideas of beauty, social status, health, sexuality, and modesty in early modern England, and thus, enduring western notions of femininity.
The Gendered Materiality of War: I am also a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Western Australia, working on Susan Broomhall, Carolyn James and Lisa Mansfield’s ARC-funded project Gendering the Italian Wars. My role in the project examines the movement of elite fashions across Europe during this tumultuous period of the sixteenth century. My work focuses on how ornamental hat badges were utilised by those involved in the Habsburg-Valois Wars to construct notions of hegemonic masculinity related to princely power and military prowess, as well as the gendered nature of iconography on and forms of armour produced during the wars.
September 2015 – December 2016
I was an intern with Worn Through, a blog about the social-cultural, academic, historical, and critical thoughts on dress, aimed at academics, museum professionals and fashion/design educators. My main roles are social Media management and content Contribution.
I have previously volunteered in the curatorial area of the Fashion and Textiles department at the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences (formerly, Powerhouse Museum) in Sydney, and I also work on the Australian Dress Register, a collaborative project that aims to catalogue and research dress in Australian pre-1975.