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  • Figuring out the next steps

    Posted on March 2nd, 2014 Rosemary Zlokas No comments

    First of all, I really enjoyed last week’s presentations!  It was great to see how everyone has been approaching their primary source research and I look forward to seeing the rest of the presentations this week.

    I am trying to incorporate oral histories into my research project.  I had a great talk with Dr. Cline about this last week.  We discussed the best way to find interviewees to talk to and now that I am at the stage of picking at colleges to look at, I should keep the availability of access to interviewees in mind.

    I also talked to Dr. Mollin this week and we discussed the best way to pick the colleges I want to focus on.  I think I will select one institution that was women only at the time and one that was co-ed.  Since I do not know where I will be this summer yet, (AHHH) she had a great suggestion that I pick sets of schools for the possible locations so that I can accessible locations.  For example, if I am in Pittsburgh this summer, I might look at Carlow University (women’s) and University of Pittsburgh or Carnegie Mellon.  If I am in Nashville, I will likely look at Vanderbilt and a women’s college.  And, if I am in Blacksburg, I will likely look at Hollins or Radford and University of Virginia.  Also, my girl Taylor has been really helpful in finding women who would be open to giving oral histories, so that could be a deciding factor as well.

    Additionally, I talked to Dr. Wallenstein about factors to consider in selecting institutions.  Lastly, I talked to Dr. Winling about approaching this topic from a spatial historian’s point of view and considering the idea of “spaces of beautification”

    It’s been a busy week but awesome to be able to talk to so many faculty members about this research!!

    Permanent Waves: The Making of the American Beauty Shop by Julie A. Willet

    In Digital History this week, we talked about GIS and the spatial turn in history.  This led me to think about how space plays a role in how I can look at my own project and the idea of “spaces of beautification.”  So, I read Permanent Waves: The Making of the American Beauty Shop by Julie A. Willett.  She gives the example of her grandmother’s beauty shop, which was distinctively and exclusively white and female.  Her beauty shop was an institution vital to culture, community, and social change.  What about for college women? Clearly, this space of beautification had a lot of implications for how women were able to determine messages of beauty and act upon them in ways that obeyed these social norms.  I am interested in seeing if beautification types of spaces for college women (dorm rooms, etc.) had a similar social construct.

    “Estée Lauder: Self-Definition and the Modern Cosmetics Market” by Nancy Koehn

    In this essay, Koehn looks at the growth of the beauty business after World War II, focusing on Estée Lauder.  This also gives some great background on the beauty business during World War II.  Koehn’s article is a great “case study” for looking at one cosmetics company at this time and also pointed me in the direction of finding really great statistics for my time period.

    Lastly, for those of you on the twitterverse, I have been manning the @vtpublichistory twitter for the past couple days and will continue to do so until Thursday.  Log on and give me some #retweets.


    10 responses to “Figuring out the next steps” RSS icon

    • Rose,
      It sounds as though your project is really taking shape. It might be interesting when you do interviews to take some of the ads with you and see how the women respond to them. Perhaps it will help to jog memories of where and how they used various products?

    • tayloringradschool

      Rose- I have a list, and I actually think that one or two of my family members (who fit the category) went to Hollins. I might be mistaken, but I know they went to smaller schools around this area, and that sounds really familiar. Let me go through and pick out the important information from her e-mail and I’ll send it on to you. But of course, when you become famous for this study, remember the little people along the way 🙂

      I am not sure if this is a silly questions or not, but could you also do kind of a bodily spatialized (if that’s even a word) study on different parts of the body? Like how were women supposed to keep their face, hair, body, etc.? That might be a little too existential/body performance/body as a category of analysis, but it just popped into my head!

      • You’re the best!! And how could I ever forget you? 🙂

        That’s a really interesting idea…it almost sounds like a “material culture” approach to looking at the body. Definitely something to think about!

    • Yeah, this is going to be a great project. Especially with the addition of oral history. What kinds of questions will you ask? Radford is definitely a good pick for a women’s college 🙂 I am biased, of course, but it is a good school. I’ve been on Hollins’ campus before and it’s pretty small. They allow men into their graduate programs, but as far as I know it’s women only for undergraduate. Do you think you’ll get to visit all of the schools?

      • I plan to ask questions such as: what types of products did you use? Why did you choose to use those? What types of advertisements, etc. influenced you to use those? What influenced your conceptions of body image? Do you still use some of these products or techniques as part of your beauty ritual/regiment?

        Radford and Hollins are great options and I have looked at those some, but I’m not set on ’em. I’m hoping to do a “test” research trip over break for a few days and try out one or two school archives in one of the locations I’m considering. When I finalize these schools, I will definitely make a point of visiting them.

    • That’s a good idea to think about certain universities you’d want to focus on–good luck! I thought your ads presentation last week was really interesting, so I hope you can keep finding good sources like that. Have you considered looking into the influence of film and TV stars on college fashion/beauty?

      • Thanks! That’s a great idea about looking at film and TV stars, but that could get tough because actresses were probably styled by professionals, likely with higher end products that these college women would be using.

    • chelseafromdelaware

      I’m really liking where you’re going with spatial history. There’s a lot to be found in places like college dorms. Like you said, they’re definitely a reflection of society, expectations, and desires. Hopefully you’ll get some good information from your interviewees about what they decorated their rooms with, and how (and if) they hoped their decorations would help them reach their ideal beauty goals. We do surround ourselves with what we want…

      • Thanks! I love the idea of asking how they decorated their dorm rooms. It would be really cool to find out that young women were hanging up advertisements in their room and actually surrounding themselves with beauty culture. Similarly, surrounding themselves with beauty products could be an interesting component of these “beautification” spaces.

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