Fashion in the Library
Editors: Courtney Becks and Cristina Favretto
Manuscript Submission Deadline: December 1, 2019
Publication date: August 2021
Nature and Scope of the Issue
Certain fields are viewed as “for girls”–decorative arts, textiles, interior design, anyone?–and fashion is one of them. These “girl zones” have traditionally not been considered worthy or serious fields of inquiry and practice like film, the fine arts, architecture, or music.“Girl zones” are not buttressed and validated by a discourse of mythic salvation and transcendence like the ones that benefit, for example, hip-hop or punk (i.e. music) or film. Academic inquiry into fashion and adjacent fields (and consideration for inclusion within Special Collections and archival environments) are very often ignored or belittled because they dare favor the feminine-coded body in opposition to the often masculine-coded mindset of what constitutes a valid subject of research and study.
Indeed, libraries and fashion, as both professions and fields of research, have more in common than might seem immediately apparent. Both fields are gendered spaces, typically coded feminine/female/femme. Because of their association with women and femme qualities, both libraries and fashion must justify their continued existence in ways the film industry, for example, never does. Both the fashion industry and the library field depend upon the passion and labor of women, yet have historically tended to reward male/masculine involvement and agency to a much greater degree. Though it is a given that the work of, for example, Alexander McQueen is of genius and worth saving, the work of the many seamstresses, pattern-makers, and “hands” within the industry is barely acknowledged; nor has the importance of women fashion journalists or editors been as documented and enshrined as that of men.
Starting in the 1990s, fashion studies began to emerge (in the wake of home economics’ name change) as an academic subject in its own right. Increasingly, attention is being paid to the importance of fashion history and practice in the study of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and class.
In the early 21st century, fashion is a multibillion dollar global industry and cultural force. Popular culture idioms like fast fashion outlets and reality shows bring fashion to a vast audience.
It is clear that the study of fashion and its role in shaping self and society will not go away, and the intersection of fashion and libraries will increasingly offer an increasingly productive vector for inquiry.
Questions this issue will consider include (but will not be limited to): what role does fashion play in library collections, outreach programs, and programming? Where does fashion belong in the library? In Special Collections? In the archives? Are three-dimensional objects allowed? Should or can libraries collaborate with museums? How do we ensure that spontaneous yet relevant intricacies of “vernacular style” and self-presentation are documented, studied, and given the respect that other less loaded forms of artistic and self-expression are given? We hope this issue will be highly interactive, exploratory, revelatory…and revealing.
List of Potential Topics
- Librarian Fashion Tropes
- Where Does Fashion Reside in the Library?
- Home Economics Collections
- “Women’s Work”
- Disappearance of Clothing Design/Textile/Apparel Programs at Land-Grant Universities
- The Bureau of Home Economics
- Documenting “Hand Work” (Seamstresses, Milliners, Pattern Designers) and Fashion-Related Small Businesses
- Fashion Studies
- Fashion Bibliographies
- Fashion Librarians/hip
- Fashion (In) Special Collections
- Who Has Access to Fashion Collections?
- Importance of Library Collections to Fashion Studies
- Researching Fashion (for Exhibits, Collections, Shows, Etc.)
- Fashion Histories
This list is by no means exhaustive. The editors are excited to consider and enthusiastically encourage the submission of perspectives and topics that haven’t occurred to them.
Instructions for Submission
The editors for the Fashion in the Library issue of Library Trends invite authors to submit full manuscripts by December 1, 2019. Manuscripts should be sent to bexlib [at] illinois [dot] edu with the subject line “Library Trends Submission.”
All submissions should follow the Library Trends formatting guidelines. Authors should use the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition author-date format for citations and bibliography.
Manuscripts should include the author’s name, affiliation, and e-mail address. Editors will communicate with the only first author of co-authored manuscripts.
Authors will be notified of their manuscript’s acceptance status in late January 2020. The double-blind peer review process begins at the same time.
The Fashion in the Library issue’s publication date is August 2021.
December 1, 2019 Manuscript Drafts Due
January 20, 2020 Peer Review Begins
April 30, 2020 Peer Review Ends
May- August 30, 2020 Manuscript Revision Period
November 1, 2020 Final Manuscripts Due to Editors
August 2021 Final Publication
Courtney Becks (MA, MALIS) is the Librarian for African American Studies and the Jewish Studies Bibliographer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is a former blogger and sometime fashion zinester. She is co-directing the Fashion, Style, & Aesthetics Research Cluster through the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities for the 2019-2020 school year. She can be reached at bexlib [at] illinois [dot] edu.
Cristina Favretto (MLS, CAS) joined the faculty of the University of Miami libraries in 2008 as the Head of Special Collections, where she curates collections documenting the history of Miami and South Florida, the Caribbean and South America, countercultural movements, artists’ books, architecture and art, and fashion. Before joining the Special Collections Department, Cristina has held a variety of posts throughout the country, including Head of Special Collections at San Diego State University, Curator of Rare Books at UCLA’s Charles E. Young Library, and Director of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture at Duke University. She has also worked at the Boston Public Library, Harvard University Libraries, and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. She received her M.L.S. and C.A.S. (Certificate of Advanced Studies) at the University of Pittsburgh, and her B.A. in English Literature and Art History at the State University of New York at Albany. Cristina spent her formative years in Trieste, Italy, and received her Baccalaureate from the Liceo Giosuè Carducci in that city. She also has had a shadow life as a performance artist and lead singer in a post-punk cabaret band.