The Costume Society of America 40th National Symposium

Posted by on Aug 5, 2014 in Global View | No Comments


The Costume Society of America Symposium: “Reflecting Forward: Forty Years of CSA.”

From May 28 to May 31st, the Costume Society of America hosted its 40th National Symposium in Baltimore, Maryland. The theme of the symposium, “Reflecting Forward: Forty Years of CSA,” marked this 40th anniversary. This year’s presentations spanned topics from a study of costumes in Sci-Fi films and television, to an exploration of the YouTube haul video phenomenon. This range in presentation provided a stimulating environment for the discussion of costume and dress among students, professors, scholars, and colleagues.


Along with scholarly presentations, the symposium hosted professional development sessions, research exhibitions, scholars roundtables, and tours of nearby historical landmarks. The professional development sessions discussed topics such as “Collecting Our Past: The CSA Oral History Project,” where Pravina Shukla discussed possible methods for interviewing members of CSA that would allow for the development of an oral historical archive of CSA.

Down Town Baltimore

The Hyatt Regency Baltimore

Awards were presented during the symposium, including the Millia Davenport Publication Award, which recognizes excellence in scholarship within the study of costume and dress that results in a publication. The 2014 Millia Davenport Award was presented to Valerie Steele for her work on “A Queer History of Fashion.”

Each year the Costume Society of America arranges pre and post symposium tours for visitors who wish to learn more about the city hosting the symposium. This year, tours of local Baltimore homes, Fort McHenry, and the Baltimore Museum of Industry were given before the symposium began. Following the end of the symposium, attendees had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. for additional tours of local homes and museums.

Next year, the 41st National Symposium will be held in San Antonio, Texas. The call for papers is available at the Costume Society of America website.

The national symposium is a unique opportunity to meet with scholars from across the U.S.A. to discuss different topics within the field of costume and dress. In 2015, the theme for the CSA symposium will be “Alamo a la Mode: Defending the Importance of Dress.” Hosted by the Southwestern region, the 41st National Symposium will undoubtedly be another exciting national meeting. And as the Southwestern region has said, “come for the research, stay for the margaritas.”


Written by Jessica Schwartz

Jessica Schwartz

Jessica Schwartz, 26, graduated from the University of Georgia in 2012 with a Master’s of Science in Textiles, Merchandising and Interiors. Her studies focused on historic and cultural aspects of fashion, with an emphasis on investigating curatorial work within the field of fashion history. She is currently working as a freelance fashion writer and interning with the Craft + Design department at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina. Following an internship in the Fashion department at the Victoria & Albert Museum and a thesis-related research trip to London, she began writing a scholarly blog Fashionable London, which focuses on fashion related-exhibitions and events as well as the fashion history of the United Kingdom.