Conferences and Paper Presentations

Symbolic Power of Clothing during the Holocaust

  • Anticipated January 3-6, 2020
  • American Historical Association
  • 134th Annual Meeting
  • New York, New York
  • Poster Session
  • This presentation will show how fashion played an important role in society during The Holocaust, studying elements such as standards set by ADEFA, wearing clothing designed Third Reich supporters, and transvestitism. There was more to clothing than what was visible on the surface, and its usage held symbolic power.

Powerful Soles: How Shoes Can Determine Status in Celebrity Culture

  • 2019 Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies conferenceAugust 30 – September 1, 2019
  • Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies
  • Bridging Gaps: Re-Fashioning Stories for Celebrity Counterpolitics
  • Club Quarters
  • New York, New York
  • Throughout history, choices in footwear defined one’s sense of belonging. In the world of fashion, one’s choice of footwear determines identification. Status can be enhanced also by limiting physical capabilities, becoming a unique example of contradictory gendered oppression when the user has agency in deciding their own footwear options. Foot binding for women in Imperial China and the chopine of the Italian Renaissance are examples of how the foot was used to limit movement. This concept still holds true as footwear can be used as a vehicle of displaying wealth and position in today’s society. Celebrities such as Lady Gaga are synonymous with extreme footwear, and this connotation sets her apart from the average woman. Just like in the past, limiting movement purposefully sends a message, sets the wearer apart, and defines status. Additionally, designer shoes such as red-soled heels by French designer Christian Louboutin create an illusion of distinction with their high cost. Louboutin’s shoes show how a single characteristic, such as color, symbolizes attributes for a culture.

Presentation at Centre for Media & Celebrity Studies in NYC

Drew Day of Scholars 2019Drew University Day of Scholars 2019

  • April 5, 2019
  • Drew University
  • Madison, New Jersey
  • Invited to present at the university’s day to celebrate the achievements and works of Drew University students through performances, art exhibitions, poster sessions, and oral presentations.
  • Presentation: Paul Poiret’s Designs are Aesthetically Pleasing: Finding the Connection in Dress Between the Aesthetic Movement and Early 20th Century Fashion
  • Although members of the Aesthetic Movement had their own standards of beauty for art, they were not accepted by the fashionable culture of the time. However, ultimately elements of Aesthetic dress were used in fashionable garments within the following decades. This presentation highlighted the connection between nineteenth-century anti-fashion and twentieth-century fashion.
  • Drew University Day of Scholars 2019

Alexandra Thelin presenting at Drew Day of Scholars 2019

Anthropological Perspective on Fashionable Footwear

  • November 8, 2018
  • Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association, 29th Annual Conference
  • Baltimore, MarylandAlexandra Thelin presenting at MAPACA 2018 in Baltimore, MD
  • Viewing fashion through an anthropological perspective and understanding its symbolic language is essential for fashion historians to truly master garments and clothing practices of the past. One way to achieve this is through the study of language, as language is a system of symbols within a specific structure, and each culture associates various meanings to those symbols. By taking the concept of fashion being a system of symbols further and focusing solely on fashionable footwear, an understanding of these symbols can be explored. Starting with footwear examples from the tenth century in Asia through shoes worn in today’s Western society, multiple styles will be examined and studied. These include foot binding practices for women in Imperial China, the poulaine of the fifteenth century, the chopine of the Italian Renaissance, red-soled shoes worn by Louis XIV and their inspiration on French contemporary designer Christian Louboutin, and the American sneaker culture that began around 1980. The practice of foot binding, the male poulaine shoe, the female chopine, red soles, and sneakers are all examples of footwear traditions that can be studied from an anthropological viewpoint. Each has an association with class, membership, and gender, and brings up other connections. These footwear examples may not be readily apparent as holding deep meaning at first, but further study shows how designations such as class, gender, and membership are all ultimately relevant within fashion choices. As seen in both historic shoe options as well as with footwear from the present time, there is much-hidden meaning within shoes. Although footwear can at first appear to be mundane, it can also be rich in symbolism.

Alexandra Thelin presenting at CSA Symposium 2018Time May Change but Taste and Style Remain: Oscar Wilde and Gabrielle Chanel’s Fashionable Connections

MAPACA ConferencePaul Poiret’s Designs are Aesthetically Pleasing: Finding the Connection in Dress Between the Aesthetic Movement and Early 20th Century Fashion

  • November 5, 2016
  • Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association, 27th Annual Conference
  • Atlantic City, New Jersey
  • Members of the Aesthetic Movement of the nineteenth century had specific standards of beauty for art, manners, and clothing. Overall, the mainstream population of the time did not follow these convictions and behaviors. Despite being unique at the onset, ultimately the modes of dress employed by the Aesthetes were welcomed into mainstream clothing as fashionable dress in the time period following the height of the Aesthetic Movement, as modified versions of these artistic garments. The method for studying this progressive bond will include discovering the elements that are seen in fashionable dress and how they differ from the clothing worn by the Aesthetes. This includes analyzing undergarments such as the corset, as well as fabric choices used for the garments. The period starting from the beginning of the First Bustle Period until the end of the Second Bustle period will be studied, showing the elements that compose fashionable dress. Historic figures such as John Ruskin, Oscar Wilde, and James McNeill Whistler will also be analyzed in how they each played a role in how clothing, both fashionable and not, was viewed. Additionally, the rise of Liberty of London will be considered as a bridge between the Aesthetes and fashionable garments. Through understanding just how different fashionable dress was from clothing worn by the Aesthetes, one can then see how the designs of Paul Poiret from the early 1900s through the 1910s are closely tied to Artistic Dress. Poiret is associated with removing the corset for women, while this was actually seen much earlier. As such, Poiret’s work pursues the elements and standards of beauty that were outlined by the Aesthetic Movement and its members. Although Aesthetic Dress was not accepted by the fashionable population at its height, it had paved the way for future designers.

Stockton UniversityJust Say Yes? The Use of Drugs Depicted in Alice in Wonderland and the Victorian Era

  • June 11, 2016
  • 2016 Annual East Coast Graduate Liberal Studies Symposium
  • Richard Stockton University, Galloway Township, New Jersey
  • In Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, there are many instances and events related to drug use. The use of pure opium and other opiates was fairly common in the Victorian era, and their prevalence could have influenced the tale of Alice and other writing and artistic creations from this time. Due to this, it is not surprising that their usage appeared in many Victorian works, and was even often seen as a tool in creating better art. This practice was not just limited to adults, as children and babies were also experiencing the highs and effects of opiates. Young Alice is involved with many drug-related experiences, but this would not be considered as uncommon or as shocking to readers as it could be perceived by today’s audience. The ease of accessibility and relaxed opinions towards usage could correlate to the overall acceptance and could justify their inclusion in Alice in Wonderland.

Monmouth UniversityCommunicating with our campus: The Monday Morning View

  • April 2012
  • New Jersey Communication Association
  • Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey
  • As the Web/Communications Assistant at Montclair State University, I produced The Monday Morning View video project where students, faculty and staff were interviewed about various issues and their responses were recorded. Those interview footage was then edited into a video using Adobe Premiere and iMovie. This presentation discussed how interacting with the campus was used as a tool to communicate current events.
  • View The Monday Morning View episodes

MAPACA Diner PresentationThe American Diner

  • October 2011
  • Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Paper discussed the architecture of the diner as a pre-fabricated building, often in the manner of a dining car of a train, and how Art Deco interior design elements are seen. The first diner built by Walter Scott in Providence, Rhode Island, around 1858 was compared to subsequent diners in the decades and century to follow. Additionally, the cultural significance that the diner has on today’s society and how diners are depicted in movies, television and artwork were explored. The types of food that are served in diners are very stereotypical for this type of establishment, and diner fare includes common ethnic additions to the menu, such as blintzes, matzah ball soup, and moussaka. The diner was also compared to other fast food establishments that are frequented today, and how a diner’s history shapes the perception of today’s diner.

Fashion in Royal Weddings

Godey’s Lady’s Book: The First Fashion Magazine