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Lace End-to-End: Lace and Identity in Crisis and Transition

Women's work
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Nottingham Trent University invites you to participate in an online seminar series: ‘Lace End-to-End’. This new online seminar brings together experts in the history of lace from raw materials to circulation, from the cotton plantation to the window curtain and wedding dress. In exploring the (social, cultural, political, and economic) meanings of lace at these various stages of its lifecycle and within global networks of production and consumption, the series will highlight themes of globalisation, technology, sustainability, identity and memory.

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This session considers the role of lace in signifying and representing points of transition and crisis. Wendy Wiertz (University of Huddersfield) discusses the impact of the aid provided to the lace industry in Brussels during the First World War, while Mary Burke (University of Connecticut) considers the changing resonances of lace for upwardly-mobile Irish Americans through the ownership of lace curtains.

Wendy Wiertz is a senior research fellow at the University of Huddersfield with a special interest in the art, social and cultural history of Europe and beyond during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In her current project, awarded with a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship, Wendy focuses on humanitarian organisations who saved the renowned Belgian lace industry in the First World War, while simultaneously ensuring the wartime employment of Belgian lacemakers in German-occupied Belgium and among Belgian refugees in Holland, France and the UK. The produced lace became known as war lace, as its unique iconography referred directly to the conflict. Prior to this, Wendy completed her PhD in Art History (KU Leuven, 2018) and curated two exhibitions. She was a Fulbright and honorary Belgian American Educational Foundation scholar at Columbia University in 2018-19 and an academic visitor at the University of Oxford in 2019-20.

Mary Burke, UConn Professor of English, directs her department’s Irish Literature program. Her forthcoming book, Race, Politics, and the Irish: A Gothic History, will be published by Oxford in 2022, as was her first book, “Tinkers”: Synge and the Cultural History of the Irish Traveller. She publishes on Irish and Irish American culture, memory, and identities, and relevant articles in recent years have been on the politics of Grace Kelly’s wedding gown (“Grace Kelly, Philadelphia, and the Politics of Irish Lace”; American Journal of Irish Studies) and the market for Irish ready-to-wear and designer wear utilizing native lace, linen, and wool created by midcentury American tourism in Ireland (“The Cottage, the Castle, and the Couture Cloak”; Journal of Design History). Her public-facing and creative work has placed with NPR, the Irish Times, Faber, and Irish national broadcaster RTÉ, the last being a piece on Taylor Swift and Aran knits. Burke is a former Notre Dame NEH Keough-Naughton Fellow and former MLA Irish Literature Committee chair.

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You must register separately for each session you are interested in. Once registered you will  receive an email with the link to the event. Please keep this safe.


All events start at 12 pm and are expected to be around an hour.

Image source: Original Format: University of British Columbia Library. Rare Books & Special Collections. World War I 1914-1918 British Press photograph collection. BC 1763.

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