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Sophie Pitman (BGC MA ’13)
Postdoctoral Researcher, Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Helsinki, Finland

The early modern period is often characterized as an era of sumptuous luxury, with rich velvets, shining pearls, and gold ornament. Extreme fashions such as highly starched linen ruffs, slashed satin doublets, and elaborately underpropped skirts have come to define the visual appeal of the Renaissance. But so few garments are preserved in collections, and sources about clothes (whether fashionable or quotidian) are spread across a vast range of sources, many of which focus on the elites. How can we study objects that no longer survive? Using examples of surviving clothing alongside reconstructed objects, this talk will suggest how historians can reconstruct the fashions of early modern Europe in spite of a paucity of evidence. It will discuss the increasing interest among historians in hands-on experimentation, and will propose some of the challenges and opportunities of using this kind of methodology.

Tuesday, April 30, 6 pm
38 West 86th Street, Lecture Hall

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Sophie Pitman is a postdoctoral researcher on the ERC project Refashioning the Renaissance: Popular Groups, Fashion and the Material and Cultural Significance of Clothing in Europe, 1550-1650 based at Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture in Helsinki, Finland. After taking a Masters at Bard Graduate Center, where she won the Wainwright Award for her QP on fashion dolls, she gained her PhD in History at the University of Cambridge. Her interest in reconstruction as a methodology began during her PhD research, and developed during her postdoc on the Making and Knowing Project at Columbia University. She is currently preparing a monograph based on her PhD about clothing in early modern London, and an edited volume entitled “Spaces of Making and Thinking: Environments of Creative Labor in the Early Modern Period.”