Anne Bissonnette, PhD
Professor, Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sci - Human Ecology Dept
330 Human Ecology Building
8905 - 116 St NWEdmonton ABT6G 2N1
Job/Research Area: Professor, Material Culture and Curatorship, and Curator, Anne Lambert Clothing and Textiles Collection.
Research Interests: Dr. Bissonnette is a dress historian, a museum curator and a designer. Her work is rooted in the fields of material culture studies, more specifically in dress and textile history. Her research explores clothing and textile from the late eighteenth century to the present day, the cut and construction of clothing, how the body and clothes interact, and 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
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
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 (Sept. 2016–change of supervisor Dec. 2019: thesis-based MA in Material Culture transition to a PhD program in Human Ecology). Dissertation research while under my supervision: “The Assignat Fan: Stirring the Winds of Change.”
- Fatemeh Faezi (Jan. 2018–June 2019: course-based MA in Material Culture).
- Katelin Karbonik (Sept. 2018–Dec. 2020: thesis-based MA in Material Culture). Completed thesis: “Clothing the Medieval Body: A Reconstruction of the Pourpoint of Charles de Blois.”
- Emma Carr (from Jan. 2021: thesis-based MA in Material Culture).
- Qi Wang (from Sept. 2021: thesis-based MA in Material Culture).
- Dr. Siming Guo (from Jan. 2022: thesis-based MA in Material Culture).
- Chiara Power (from Sept. 2022: thesis-based MA in Material Culture).
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: 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–withdrawal Dec. 2019) (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.”
Anne Bissonnette in the News
Jan. 15, 2021: "FIDM Collection Conversation" with Kevin Jones (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles, via Instagram Live).
Dec. 7, 2020: "New University of Alberta virtual exhibit explores blurred lines between private, public fashion" by Anna Junker (Edmonton Journal, https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/new-university-of-alberta-virtual-exhibit-explores-blurred-lines-between-private-public-fashion).
Nov. 30, 2020: "Virtual exhibit explores blurred lines between private and public fashion" by Bev Betkowski (Folio, https://www.ualberta.ca/folio/2020/11/virtual-exhibit-explores-blurred-lines-between-private-and-public-fashion.html).
Aug. 19, 2020: "COVID-19 Mask Update" (14:39 minutes video, TELUS WORLD of SCIENCE). https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=311305923647867&extid=g7Vxa9Xz7ZtjbtYg
June 16, 2020: "Full Webinar| The Science behind the Homemade Mask" (1.5 hrs video, Alberta Craft Council). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9ZZr1rAX0Q&feature=youtu.be
June 10, 2020: "COVID-19 & Homemade Face Masks" (16:24 minutes video, TELUS WORLD of SCIENCE). https://www.facebook.com/EdmontonScience/videos/649322495669463/
June 3, 2020: "Comment fabriquer un masque en tissue" (3:39 minutes video, Radio-Canada). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS4IMiMzILQ
May 27, 2020: "Costume Society of America Fellow: Anne Bissonnette" (Annoucement at https://costumesocietyamerica.com/costume-society-of-america-fellow-anne-bissonnette/ and Nov. 2020 interview summary at https://costumesocietyamerica.com/interview-with-csa-fellow-dr-anne-bissonnette-is-now-available-on-our-youtube-channel/)
April 11, 2020: "Cloth Face Masks: Merging Science & Home Remedies" (website strated April 11, 2020, University of Alberta). https://clothingtextiles.ualberta.ca/clothfacemasks/
June 2018: "Fashion Forward," by Caroline Barlott in Avenue Magazine, June 2018. Available here.
June 2017: "Consider This: Experiential Learning through Exhibition Curatorship," by Anne Bissonnette in The Quad. Available here.
March 2014: Interviewed for a segment called “Profil de Chercheur” (Researcher Profile) by Lyne Lemieux from Radio-Canada (radio). Aired on the show “La Croisée” on April 14, 2014 (17h 20 - 8 minutes). Available here (in french).
September 2013: “Telling tales through textiles at U of Alberta” by Karen Birchard in University Affairs. Available here.
- 2010 individual winner, award for excellence, target market design, International Textile and Apparel Association, for the design and production of “Canadian Greatcoat: Variable Winter Wear for Mild to Subarctic Temperatures” by Dr. Anne Bissonnette.
- 2017 Richard Martin Award for Excellence in the Exhibition of Costume (small museum category), Costume Society of America, for the University of Alberta exhibition “Eyewear: Fashion with Vision” (Nov. 2016 – Feb. 2017) co-curated by Dr. Anne Bissonnette, Cybil Cameron, Katelin Karbonik, Naomi Milne, Kathy Mooney, Danielle Peel, and Donnalee Riley. First student co-curated project to receive this prestigious international award.
- 2011 commendation from the jury of The Richard Martin Award for Excellence in the Exhibition of Costume, Costume Society of America, for the University of Alberta exhibition “In Mother’s Hood: Inuit Packing Dolls from Taloyoak” (Sept. 2010 – Aug.2011) co-curated by Dr. Anne Bissonnette and Christina Williamson, undergraduate student intern.
- 2009 exhibition finalist, visual arts category, Northern Ohio Live Awards of Achievement: Northern Ohio Live Magazine, for the Kent State University Museum exhibition “Rudi Gernreich: BOLD” (July 2008 – May 2009) curated by Dr. Anne Bissonnette.
- 2008 Richard Martin Award for Excellence in the Exhibition of Costume (small museum category), Costume Society of America, for a series of three late 18th and early 19th-century exhibitions curated by Dr. Anne Bissonnette held concurrently in Ohio in 2006-07: “Fashion on the Ohio Frontier: 1790-1840,” Ohio Art Council’s Riffe Gallery; “Hair: The Rise of Individuality, 1790-1840,” Decorative Arts Center of Ohio; “The Age of Nudity,” Kent State University Museum.
- 2017 recipient of the Ed and Peggy Tyrchniewicz Award for Innovation in Teaching, Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Alberta.
HECOL 268 - Survey of Historic Dress in the Western World
Introduction to the historical development of dress in the Western World with contemporary applications in design, merchandising, arts performance, education and museums. Resources include the Anne Lambert Clothing and Textiles Collection.
HECOL 368 - Fashion History: Interpretations & Exhibition
Advanced study of Western dress from the 18th century to the present. Lectures and labs introduce students to artifactual research and the handling, storage, examination, documentation and exhibition of artifacts. Sources explored include artwork, fashion plates, texts, caricatures, photography, patterns, reproduction garments and historical clothing from the Anne Lambert Clothing and Textiles Collection. Students co-curate an exhibition as part of the course. Prerequisite: HECOL 268. Normally offered in alternate years.
HECOL 668 - Material Culture and Curatorship
Examines the different ways in which artifacts-from the body to the built environment-are interpreted in physical and virtual exhibitions. The course is designed to include a variety of student interests but pieces from the Anne Lambert Clothing and Textiles Collection will serve as preferred artifacts for assignments. Guest lecturers and site visits add to lectures on museum practices such as handling and mounting, storage, registrarial processes, research and exhibition design. Students co-curate an exhibition as part of the course.
Teaching - Fashion History Crash Course in Paris
Early August (yearly, when possible) to 6 days of classes and 8 nights of accomodations
From ancient Mediterranean clothing to 21st century fashion, join Dr. Anne Bissonnette (Associate Professor, University of Alberta) in Paris, France, for a journey through the historical development of dress. This 6 day course is an immersion into the world of global textiles and apparel and the cultures from which they emerged.
Lectures will occur in the mornings at the Paris American Academy (PAA), within walking distance of many world-class museums. Afternoons will be invested admiring exceptional artifacts at these museums, which will allow participants to better understand the source civilizations and to contextualize dress.
Non-for-credit short course.
For more information, please go to https://alesabroad.ualberta.ca/fashion-history-crash-course-in-paris/