Women and the Material Culture of Needlework and Textiles, 1750-1950

By Martin, Ann Smart | Material Culture, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

Women and the Material Culture of Needlework and Textiles, 1750-1950


Martin, Ann Smart, Material Culture


Women and the Material Culture of Needlework and Textiles, 1750-1 950 Edited by Maureen DaIy Goggin and Beth Fowkes Tobin Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2009. 296 pp. Illustrations, bibliography, index. $124.95 (cloth).

"The history of needlework and textiles is deliciously complex" (p. 1). So Maureen DaIy Goggin beckons the reader to Women and the Material Culture ofNeedlework and Textiles, 1750 to 1950, a fine collection of thirteen essays that examine women as makers and the things women made.

Some of the most forward thinking material culture scholarship today comes from the previously neglected area of textiles and needlework study. This collection joins the work of Mary Beaudry Maria Miller, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and Beverly Gordon (represented here as well) in critically examining a material culture of gender through the lens of women's relationships to one another, the economy, and objects of their making.

This essay collection mirrors some of the above but also asks some refreshingly new questions. The study of women's production of objects is placed in a dialogue of gendered power and service in an alternative rhetorical discourse. Hence, Goggin challenges us to see the needle in action (making, ornamenting, and speaking) in its relationship to the pen's capacity to write and, in so doing, recover the lives and voices of women. She also calls for a continued emphasis on praxis - the "making of things" as cultural habit and individual creativity. Finally, the essays interrogate the endemic problems of art versus craft in the intellectual canon, and how the fiber arts have been marginalized.

Like the best of such collected volumes, the essays represent a wide variety of types, places, cultures, and time periods that highlight differences, but together strengthen common themes. Because the authors come from such a wide variety of backgrounds (English, history, design studies, folklore and art history professors, as well as textile curators), a savvy reader can gather up a list of the methodologies used to form a snapshot of the material culture field of today, at least that found in the eye of a needle. In the same way, we can see the variety of interests in subthemes. Some authors are engaging with newer "do-it-yourself third-wave feminist constructions; others are interested in an art/craft divide; others use the trope of textile workers and fledgling workers' rights.

Following Goggin's introduction, the collection is divided into three sections. The first explores the "ways in which needlework, whether decorative embroidery, plain sewing, or machine stitching is both constructed by and constructs gendered identity" (5). Heather Pristash, Inez Schaechterle, and Sue Carter Wood investigate a "Francis Willard" pattern that could be ordered to include a design for a split skirt, certainly one step toward women's pants. Marcia McLean takes on a neglected area of more modern behavior by examining women's sewing in 1940s Canada. Goggin and Aimee Newall look at embroidered samplers, an object type that has been examined at length before, but ask fresh questions. Goggin examines the stitched words as "silken inke." Finally, Newell looks at particular object lives and how skill levels declined in the individual biographies of women in a more industrial society.

The second section examines cultural identity and social linkages through quiltmaking, piecing, and lace making. Beverly Gordon and Laurel Horton present particular quilts as object studies to demonstrate a forceful and convincing way of thinking about quilts through embodiment and as multi-sensory experience. Two other authors push the study of quilts away from mainstream study and open fascinating views: Cynthia Culver Prescott examines crazy quilts in the Far West and how increasing availability led consumer demands for high-fashion quilt materials. Martha MacDowell hits the ball out of the park with her study of native quilt making. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Women and the Material Culture of Needlework and Textiles, 1750-1950
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.