Charlotte Nicklas (MA 2005) is Senior Lecturer in History of Art and Design at the University of Brighton, England, specializing in the history of dress and textiles of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and her PhD from the University of Brighton. Co-editor (with Annebella Pollen) of Dress History: New Directions in Theory and Practice (Bloomsbury, 2015), her work has also appeared in the Journal of Design History and Fashion Theory.

What attracted you to Bard Graduate Center’s program?

When I applied for MA programs, I was working in the Department of Textile and Fashion Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. I knew that I wanted to focus on fashion and textiles, but I enjoyed thinking about them in the broader contexts of art and design at the museum. I saw that fashion and textiles were well-represented at the BGC, but was also intrigued by other courses in design and decorative art history. The program’s location in New York City and its many connections to the city’s museums and libraries sealed the deal.

What was your focus of study here? How did you find yourself involved with it?

I focused on fashion and textile history, taking and loving every course that the wonderful Michele Majer offered. (European Textile History, complete with fragments of eighteenth-century silks, was a particular favorite.) Amy Ogata’s class on the architecture and design of the Weimar Republic was an amazing course that dovetailed perfectly with our Bard Term Abroad in Berlin. Juliet Kinchin’s excellent course on the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century domestic interior was a key influence on my research. I became fascinated by the relationship between technology and design, which led to my MA thesis and PhD dissertation on the cultural contexts and meanings of textile dyes developed in the nineteenth century.

Describe your position at the University of Brighton and your current projects?

I am very lucky to be a senior lecturer at the University of Brighton in the U.K. I came to Brighton to do my PhD with Lou Taylor and Louise Purbrick and was extremely fortunate to find a job here as I was finishing my dissertation. We have a number of design history-related undergraduate degrees, including one in Fashion and Dress History. I also teach students in our History of Design and Material Culture MA program and supervise doctoral students. My time at Bard Graduate Center gave me an excellent foundation for my teaching here and, as at the BGC, I love being among like-minded scholars. Sharing images, texts, and objects that inspired me as a student is one of my favorite parts of teaching. This year, one of the BGC term abroad programs was in England and I met Professor Paul Stirton and the group when they were in Brighton!

My area of research remains the fashion and textiles of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I recently co-edited a book with my colleague Annebella Pollen called Dress History: New Directions in Theory and Practice. This publication, which grew out of a conference held at Brighton, provides a thought-provoking range of international case studies from scholars working in dress history today. My main research project at the moment is turning my PhD dissertation, on the transition from natural to synthetic textile dyes in the nineteenth century, into a book. I am also working on some smaller projects, including an article about hats in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century fiction.

What are your future projects?

I am hoping to establish a research network of scholars working on nineteenth-century fashion and clothing to continue my research on this fascinating period. Good connections between universities and museums already exist and I hope to capitalize on these. It has been a long time since I have worked on a museum exhibition and I hope this can be part of my work soon!