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Anne Bissonnette, PhD

Associate Professor

Agricultural Life and Environmental Sciences

Human Ecology

About Me

Job/Research Area: Associate Professor, Material Culture and Curatorship, and Curator, Clothing and Textiles Collection.


Research Interests: Anne's work is in the field of material culture studies and dress history. Her areas of research consist of fashion from the late eighteenth century to the present day, with a special interest for the cut and construction of clothing, how the body and clothes interact, and on the convergence between art, fashion and science.

On-going Research Project: “A Revolutionary Decade: Fashion & Material Culture in the 1790s”

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Insight Grant

March 2017-2021

Summary: The importance of the body in fashion and the radical adoption of street styles by the elite go back to eighteenth-century Europe. This study examines the effects of the French Revolution on European and American style. It asks how 1790s fashion drastically changed to affect and reflect the social order. During this revolutionary decade, clothing was implicated in the changing political, artistic and ideological landscapes of Europe. As people searched for new systems of government, the meaning of dress in France took on additional importance. The research will thus begin in France and expand to places traditionally affected by French style: the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States and Canada. Finding, accessing and analyzing surviving clothing and depictions of dress such as portraits and fashion plates from the 1790s will allow us to understand the journey towards more democratic and body-conscious styles. This project examines the intertwining of fashion with political, cultural and social histories.


Students currently supervised and their research topic/area of interest 

Undergraduate Students Research under Direct Supervision:

  • Ann Salmonson (BSC Human Ecology obtained 2014): “Qing Dynasty Embroidery: An Exploration of Historical Tradition and Practice.” Research conducted by the student in China and India during the summer of 2013. University of Alberta’s Undergraduate Research Initiative.

      Graduate Students under Direct Supervision:

      • Therese Martinez-Yu (Jan. 2010–Aug. 2013): thesis-based MA, Textiles & Clothing. Completed thesis: “Five Building Blocks: A Study Madeleine Vionnet’s Construction Techniques Explained to the Novice through the Exploration of Five Patterns by Betty Kirke.”
      • Loretta Yau (Sept. 2012–Aug. 2013): thesis-based MA, Textiles & Clothing, withdrew.
      • Carlos Fiorentino (Sept. 2013: PhD program in Human Ecology, co-supervised with Dr. Strickfaden). Dissertation title: “StrC–Rich Prospect Taxonomy on Structural Colour: a Tool for Research to Connect Scientific Knowledge on Nature and Biomimetic Design Innovation.” 
      • Sarah Woodyard (Sept. 2014-Jan. 2017): thesis-based MA in Textiles & Clothing. Completed thesis: “Martha’s Mob Cap? A Milliner’s Hand-Sewn Inquiry into Eighteenth-Century Caps ca.1770 to 1800.”
      • Stephanie Huolt (Sept. 2014-Dec. 2016): thesis-based MA in Textiles & Clothing. Completed thesis: “The Power of Dress Up: Investigating Children’s Perceptions to the Use of Reproduction Period Garments in a Costume-based Museum Education Program.”
      • Yara Saegh (Jan. 2015–Aug. 2017: course-based MA in Material Culture). Practicum Report (and published article): “The Sultan’s Carpet: A Case Study of an Ottoman Cairene Textile in the Collection of the Nickle Galleries.”
      • Meg Furler (Jan. 2017-May 2018: course-based MA in Material Culture). Practicum Report: “Making a Milliner: Connecting Theory and Practice through Experiential Learning at Colonial Williamsburg.”
      • Josée Chartrand (Sept. 2016–Jan. 2019): thesis-based MA in Material Culture). Completed thesis: “Costumes of the Pavley-Oukrainsky Ballet: A Material History Analysis.”
      • Patricia Siferd (since Sept. 2016: PhD program in Human Ecology). Dissertation title: “The Assignat Fan: Stirring the Winds of Change.”
      • Fatemeh Faezi (Jan. 2018–June 2019: course-based MA in Material Culture).
      • Katelin Karbonik (since Sept. 2018: thesis-based MA in Material Culture).

      Graduate Students: Supervisory Committees:

      MA, Textiles & Clothing:

      • Committee Member & Chair for the final exam of Lesley Stafiniak (June 2011 – Aug. 2013). Completed thesis: “How Inspirational Sources are Adapted towards Textile Surface Designs.”           
      • Committee Member & Chair for the final exam of Afrin Anowar Biswas (Aug. 2013). Completed thesis: “Characterization of Disability within Design Process.”

      MA, Department of Art and Design:

      • External Examiner for Ceren Pektas (Sept. 2014). Completed thesis: “Innovation Through Design: Understanding the Challenges, Improving the Practices of Using New Materials Application in the Building Industry.”

      Doctoral Level (within the Human Ecology Department Unless Otherwise Noted):

      • Committee Member, Leanne Page (Dec.2011 on) (English and Film Studies Department). Dissertation research: “Bodies, Spaces, and Identities: The Functions of Dress in the Victorian Sensation Novel.”
      • Committee Member, Sandra Tullio-Pow (Nov. 2013-June 2016). Dissertation research: “Exploring the Clothing Taskscape: Mapping the Relationship between Ability and Environment to Design Specialized Functional Apparel for Occupational Rehabilitation Therapy.”
         First place winner in the 2017 Student Best Paper Competition at the Doctoral level, International Textile and Apparel Association.
      • Committee Member, Kyung Hwa Eun (April 2018 on) (English and Film Studies Department). Dissertation research: “Frances Burney's Realism and the Ephemerality of Female Shopping.”
      • Chair for the doctoral candidacy exam of Robyn Stobbs (Nov. 2018). Completed thesis: “(Im)material Worlds: An Exploration of Information and Materiality in World-Building for Tabletop Roleplaying Games.”