Saturday, 17 September 2011

New academic year

It's now only a week until I have to re-enrol on my fashion course - so my welding will be soon be over. This summer, I have helped the University again, working in the Engineering Department on mostly maintenance but also helping install some new equipment - and, of course, welding lots of things like bicycles, motorcycles, car exhausts and even a bird cage!

But already, my thoughts are turning to fashion - and my Dissertation for this year. It's not the final, 15,000 word one (that will be in 2013, I hope) but does have to be "7,500 words on an original topic and supported by appropriate academic reference."

While I was doing some initial research, I came across this book:

One of the illustrations was used on the cover of this book:

So I think I may write about the development of women blacksmiths and welders from the 18th Century and how their workwear accentuated their femininity before later developing into utilitarian dress that we know today, and how fashion-derived workwear could be worn without undermining the ability of women to be perceived as first-class welders.

I am very interested in the case of Faith Feather Traversie, a Yankton Lakota woman - that's a Native American (or "Indian") - who became a welder in the Mare Island Navy Yard, and wonder how she might have combined her native clothing with welding wear, and Rachel Yent of Baltimore, who "wore a tight-fitting woollen dress" under her leather apron.

I know this will be a big topic, but as the old Lithuanian Proverb says: "Many a horse may be a mule if you don't use your eyes."


  1. Hello:
    This does, in fact, sound a genuinely interesting and fascinating subject for your dissertation and one which it is very unlikely has been, or will be, tackled by anyone else. Let us hope that your tutors either know, or are prepared to read up, on the subject.

    We shall be curious to know how it develops.

  2. Alice,

    Sounds like the perfect mix of welding and fashion you'd expect from someone who has a blog under that very same name. How on earth did you think of that? The first thing that came to my mind was weld evolution on motorcycles - though I do run a motorcycle site and haven't got much of an eye for fashion.

    Best of luck, 7,500 words is nothing. (Tell yourself that, maybe it will help.) I've seen academics during the writing process, I hope you have a bit of time for fun. If not, let me know, I'll have a beer for you.

    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

  3. Thank you both so much for your comments and encouragement! I am quite excited about the research now - as the old Lithuanian sayings goes: "The longest step on a hard road is the one that passes the inn."

  4. Do they have inns in Lithuania?

  5. Of COURSE they do Nikos! It was Saules Kliosas (I think) who recorded a modern version of an old Lithuanian folk song which, roughly translated, went "When you are in an Inn, you are in!"

  6. How is the writing going? Can you post a brief snippet?
    Was the wearing of a woollen dress beneath the leather apron a little warm for welding?

  7. LabÄ…dien Scarlet!

    I'm still researching at the moment, so not much writing. The reason for a woollen dress is that wool has very good fire-resistant properties - racing drivers used to wear wool underwear! But most women welders I know don't wear underwear as it can be quite dangerous if a spark gets in the wrong a long woollen dress is also good for modesty.

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