The lecturer’s new clothes
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The lecturer’s new clothes book
This chapter draws on the field notes of an academic woman to reflect on the complexities of an academic life and identity through the medium of clothing. While academic dress is a topic popular with women bloggers, researchers in higher education seldom acknowledge the existence of clothing for academics, as if in acknowledging our state of dress (reversing the Emperor’s dilemma) we might risk undermining the status of our elevated minds in the rational university. Yet clothing is integral to the experience of being in academia, and while it links to age-old issues of the relationship between body and mind in the university, or to gender and sexuality, it also lends itself to a phenomenological account of academic life. Vignettes drawn from journals each reflect on a specific garment in relation to transitional moments in the working life of an academic woman. As the vignettes convey, clothes are not only felt in material or bodily terms, they are thought about, carry ideas and associations, and are remembered and imagined. Through examining the combination of association, memory and imagination that goes into wearing clothes in academia, this tale of an academic woman’s life lived in textiles demonstrates that clothing does matter.