I am currently a Research Fellow at in the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences at ACU Melbourne. I have previously held research and teaching positions at the University of Melbourne, the University of Sydney and the University of Western Australia.
The Whaling Trade, Gender and Fashionable Consumer Goods in Early Modern Europe
This project examines one of the key turning points in fashion, trade and industry: the widespread use of whale products in clothing and decorative arts between 1500-1800. It will utilise records in British and French collections, alongside experimental and interdisciplinary methodologies, to trace the journey these commodities took from whale to toilette and the multiple hands, both male and female, that they passed through to get there. This study offers a critical reassessment of the global early modern whaling trade by focusing on the fashionable goods that it produced and how gendered assumptions mediated the demand for and perceived value of these consumer goods, as well as the ecological effects of their consumption.
Before the Mantua-Maker: Women and the Garment-making Trades, 1550-1650
My work is also interested in the production of clothing during the seventeenth century. Current projects focus on the body-making and farthingale-making trades in seventeenth century London. These trades were the first to break away from tailoring and specialise in the making of women’s clothing, many decades before the mantua-maker or stay-maker. My work looks at their workshops, guild affiliations and patterns of work. My research also examines the role of women in tailoring and tailoring-related trades during the seventeenth century. Much exciting work has been done on female milliners, mantua-makers and seamstresses in late seventeenth-century England and France. However, I am interested in how women participated in more “masculine” trades such as tailoring during the seventeenth century. Current projects focus on widows in the tailoring trades and the female artificers of Catherine of Braganza.
Shaping Femininity (forthcoming with Bloomsbury)
Shaping Femininity is the first large-scale study of the production, consumption and meanings of female foundation garments in sixteenth and seventeenth-century England. By combining experimental history methodologies such as historical dress reconstruction with archival and early printed materials, visual sources and material objects, I challenge longstanding myths about the first foundation garments by exploring these objects in the context of early modern English society. Far from being vain victims of fashion, women were calculated consumers who wore foundations garments for a variety of reasons: for practical considerations relating to the fit of everyday dress, to bodily beauty ideals, social status and modesty. I argue that a history of bodies and farthingales is a history of the female body and these garments helped to shape and define changing notions of femininity in early modern England, notions that continue to influence western ideals of femininity today.
The Gendered Materiality of War
From 2018-2020 I was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Western Australia, working on the ARC-funded project Gendering the Italian Wars. My role in the project examined the movement of elite fashions across Europe during this tumultuous period of the sixteenth century. My work focuses on how items of material culture, namely hat badges (enseignes) and armour, were utilised in order to project princely power and military prowess by those involved in the Habsburg-Valois Wars such as Charles V and Francis I.