Stitching the Self: Identity and the Needle Arts



The needle arts are traditionally associated with the decorative, domestic, and feminine. Stitching the Self sets out to expand this narrow view, demonstrating how needlework has emerged as an art form through which both objects and identities - social, political, and often non-conformist - are crafted.

Bringing together the work of ten art and craft historians, this illustrated collection focuses on the interplay between craft and artistry, amateurism and professionalism, and re-evaluates ideas of gendered production between 1850 and the present. From quilting in settler Canada to the embroidery of suffragist banners and the needlework of the Bloomsbury Group, it reveals how needlework is a transformative process - one which is used to express political ideas, forge professional relationships, and document shifting identities.

With a range of methodological approaches, including object-based, feminist, and historical analyses, Stitching the Self examines individual and communal involvement in a range of textile practices. Exploring how stitching shapes both self and world, the book recognizes the needle as a powerful tool in the fight for self-expression.

Review quotes...

Stitching the Self considers historical textiles and the lives that made them. Diverse examples - from the English Bloomsbury group to a Swiss psychiatric asylum - show how textile making has long been used as an effective tool to craft personal and group identities.
~ Jessica Hemmings, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Needles are evocative tools of material expression. This collection reveals the freighted history and practice of needlework, whose signal importance is demonstrated across this engrossing volume. Makers from varied circumstances are showcased in compelling ways, challenging categories of artistic production.
~ Beverly Lemire, University of Alberta, Canada

A diverse range of essays which richly illustrate the importance of needlecrafts in forging, reconstituting, recovering and reclaiming individual and collective identifies. Focusing on Europe and North America, the authors illuminate hidden histories, challenge gender stereotypes and disrupt art/craft and professional/amateur binaries.
~ Vivienne Richmond, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

Paperback, 256 pages

Edited by Johanna Amos and Lisa Binkley.

Johanna Amos is Assistant Professor (adjunct) of art, textile and fashion history at Queen's University, Ontario, Canada.

Lisa Binkley is Assistant Professor in Material Culture, and Indigenous and Settler Women's Histories in the Department of History at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Images courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC



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