DISTAFF (Discussion, Interpretation, and Study of Textile Arts, Fabrics, and Fashion) was founded in 1997 by Gale R. Owen-Crocker and Robin Netherton to bring together participants at the major medieval congresses who are interested in medieval dress and textiles. DISTAFF are hosting three sponsored sessions at the International Congress on Medieval Studies (13-15 May 2021).
Paper proposals and inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 15, 2020.
Object Lessons: Presenting History Through Artifacts
Scholars from multiple disciplines are increasingly examining and presenting medieval artifacts in ways that go beyond traditional catalog descriptions, focusing instead on how surviving items, individually or collectively, illuminate their cultural and social contexts. While DISTAFF is centered on study of clothing and textiles, the interdisciplinary approaches used to “read” surviving artifacts in this field apply to other areas of material culture. Roundtable participants will describe the approaches they took in compiling and presenting collections of such artifacts, including what they learned along the way and how their experiences might inform other researchers’ interpretation of medieval objects.
Dress and Textiles I: Rank and Signifiers
This session coincides with the release of an important new book in our field — a massive compilation of documentary references on Scottish court clothing — whose author will present additional findings from that research, focusing on the use of dress to express rank. In keeping with our ongoing emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches, any scholarly approach to medieval or early modern textiles and clothing is welcome, including but not limited to art history, archival research, archaeology, social history, language/literature, economics, trade, and gender studies.
Dress and Textiles II: Curious Descriptions and Depictions
A great deal of current work in clothing and textile study involves explaining puzzling dress or textile references in art, historical documents, and literature, in turn aiding in the overall interpretation of
those sources. This session brings together papers in which scholars have deciphered confusing images or written passages about clothing and textiles, or dress/textile artifacts with odd or confusing elements.