Sourcing the Archive

‘Sourcing the Archive: new approaches to materialising textile history’.

Keynote Speakers: Professor Carolyn Steedman, University of Warwick
Dr Solveigh Goett, Textile Artist and Researcher. 

Textiles attract through their sensory appeal – their texture and weight, smell, malleability, sound, retention of owners’ and makers’ bodily traces – factors only fully appreciable through physical engagement with them. Yet many, especially modern, historians have relied – often of necessity – on documentary or visual sources to research textile history. The 2013 Pasold Conference, jointly organised by Goldsmiths Department of History and the Goldsmiths Textile Collection will explore how tacit knowledge of material and affective relationships can be traced through the words we think with (Lakoff & Johnson 1999, 2003) with a view to asking: how can our engagement with textile sources extend our knowledge of the past? What can textiles communicate that other sources cannot? Building on a range of recent events which encourage engagement with the materiality of textiles, textile archives and/or the relationship between textiles and other historical sources the Conference will seek to identify textiles’ unique contribution to the advancement of historical understanding and practices.

We welcome proposals for 20-minute papers/presentations from historians, practitioners, writers and scholars in any discipline and concerned with any period or region. Proposals from postgraduate students are warmly welcome. Themes for papers may include, but are not limited to the following and we encourage creative interpretation of the overall conference theme:

– The unique value of textiles as historical sources.

– The relationship between physical and other (documentary, visual, digital) textile sources.

– The nature and purpose of physical textile archives in a digital age.

– The extent to which the value of physical engagement with textiles can be recovered when the textiles no longer exist.

– The challenges of, and solutions to, disseminating research findings which demand physical engagement with textile sources.

– The value of the materiality of textiles for cross-cultural/disciplinary interactions and writing about history.

Proposals, c. 250 words (and enquiries) should be sent to: by June 7 2013 Goldsmiths’ acclaimed history of innovative work in the textile arts will be celebrated during the Conference with a special exhibition of material from the Goldsmiths’ Textile Collection, ‘an eclectic, international treasure trove of textiles’. There will also be an optional afternoon of object handling in the Collection to generate discussion around new ways of writing history.


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