Addie, Lauren, & Claire touring the costume collection with Marla Day.
When someone says ‘It takes a village’ they may be talking about teaching Fashion History from the Renaissance until present day for the first time. Taking on this course, which is also the department’s core writing course, was exhausting and rewarding.
Step 1 – I contacted my mentors Abby Lillethun, Linda Welters, and Margaret Ordonez. Abby shared advance copies of their research, made sure I knew the latest teaching trends in history, and gave the best advice – which was to start the class with an overview of ethnocentrism. Dr. O kindly sent me files, advice, and answered lots of questions throughout my semester. (I had no idea that she started the historic collection here at K-State!)
Step 2 – I reflect on my personal knowledge and my personal bookshelf. I’ve been teaching for over 6 years at the college level, and have been obsessed with fashion since I was 8. I have a lot of books. From my own experience, I started the class with a review of the pillars of culture, as presented by Either and Evenson. This gave me a format, that I applied to each history period as I moved forward. I’ve only formally taken 20th Century Fashion, so I had a lot to learn along with my students. For every period I didn’t know I went through our interlibrary loan to gather sources upon sources.
Step 3 – In person resources are so valuable! It never made sense to me why teachers don’t tap into the skills of others at a university. Marla Day, our costume collection curator, was an invaluable resource. She gave guest lectures, employed interested students in the collection, introduced me to the teaching collection, and offered a lot perspective throughout the semester. Ellen and Tom became our course librarians. They stepped in on on research days, writing days, and when I had a death in the family. They even reached out to students, who I knew were stuck to offer extra guidance. The writing center introduced the class to the world of annotated bibliographies – not a fan favorite, but absolutely a mission critical assignment.
Step 4 – Fashion history requires a lot of images. When I build a lecture I look for high quality resolutions and accurate citations. If you don’t use Google Arts and Culture, why aren’t you? It connects you to collections from thousands of museums across the world.
In summary, this class took over my life. I couldn’t tell you how much progress was really made on my dissertation during the Fall 2019 semester. I can tell you that I have a new found passion for history, and the utmost appreciation for my colloquies.