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Fashion and Conflict in Early America


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Clashes between European rivals and colonial settlers' determination to control their environment shaped the physical landscape and ideological contours of the North American continent. Throughout these early centuries of conflict, conquest, and settlement, European newcomers and their descendants persistently turned to the taste, material culture, and fashions of the Old World to affirm their cultural
identities even as they forged new patterns of consumption and trade.

Perhaps nowhere is this dynamic history of conflict, accommodation, and adaptation more evident than in the clothing and textiles worn and used in British and French North America during the long eighteenth century. In the absence of large-scale manufacturing, imported English and European fabrics were essential for well-dressed bodies and fashionably-appointed domestic interiors. News of the latest civilian and military clothing styles worn abroad likewise shaped tastes and trends. However, colonists also adopted nuanced, and at times alternative, visions of dressing and furnishing. A combination of all these goods, trends, and ideologies would come to play a role in the American Revolution and subsequently helped define the character of the new nation.

Historic Deerfield's fall symposium, "Fashion and Conflict in Early America," will provide an in-depth look at the broad meanings of conflict on clothing and textiles that defined culture in 18th-and early 19th-century British and French North America.

The program features an impressive and engaging group of speakers and workshop presenters sharing new insights and information on the myriad meanings and perspectives of conflict. Guest speakers include John Styles, Research Professor in History, University of Hertfordshire, UK, and Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Jonathan Eacott, Associate Professor, University of California, Riverside; Neal T. Hurst, Associate Curator of Costume and Textiles, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; Ann Buermann Wass, History/ Museum Specialist, Riversdale House Museum, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Baltimore, MD; and Matthew Keagle, Curator of Collections, Fort Ticonderoga. Several juried speakers will explore topics related to politics, importation of styles and trends, and the military.

The symposium also offers workshops that allow participants up-close access to experts skilled in the historic trades of early 19th century millinery and tailoring.

Registration for the forum is $385 and includes all lectures and demonstrations, admission to Historic Deerfield for the duration of the symposium, two receptions, one lunch, and refreshments.Friends of Historic Deerfield receive a $20 discount on their registration fee.

Register by July 27, 2018 and receive a $30 early-bird discount! 

Historic Deerfield wishes to thank the Northeast Region of the Costume Society of America for their support.

View the complete schedule.

Register online: