Staff employed at University of Copenhagen – University of Copenhagen

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Jane Anne Malcolm-Davies

Jane Anne Malcolm-Davies

Associate Professor

I am in the fortunate position of being a Marie Skłodowska Curie Fellow here at the Centre for Textile Research, University of Copenhagen from August 2015 to July 2017.

My research project focuses on more than 100 knitted caps from the early modern era in museum collections worldwide - an astonishing number given the paucity of extant garments from the period. Despite their diverse locations, they have remarkable similarities in their materials and manufacture. I am taking advantage of cutting-edge scientific study techniques (including radiocarbon dating, microscopic examination, x-radiography, fibre and dye identification, and degradation analysis). I am also undertaking interdisciplinary research into contemporary sources to chart an economic map of early knitting, to define terminology for further scholarly work, and to develop theory about men’s headwear in the 16th century.

An online database will make the research material, including photographs using polynomial texture mapping (PTM), accessible to scholars, museum educators and craftspeople. See Dinah Eastop’s blog [http://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/blog/author/deastop/] on using this technique with lace. Journal articles, practical workshops and social media will disseminate the research conclusions and the development of theory.

My project is known as KEME (Knitting in the Early Modern Era: materials, manufacture and meaning). A summary of the proposal evaluation is available here, [http://d1if9goz7q8163.cloudfront.net/uploads/2015/10/04103757/656748-KEME-ESR.pdf]. It scored an exceptional 92 per cent for project planning. There is a blog, Facebook page [https://www.facebook.com/strickersvej] and Ravelry group [http://www.ravelry.com/groups/strickersvej---knitters-way] called Strickersvej (Knitters Way), named after part of the route I cycle to work every day.

I am recruiting three groups of collaborators:

  • People who have examined the archaeological evidence in museum collections first hand;

  • Reenactors and educators with experience of reconstructing knitted caps from interpretive media such as photographs and secondary sources; and

  • Keen knitters who are interested in the history of knitting.

 The CTR will also be advertising for a paid postgraduate research assistant to work with me eight hours a week during the project. There are also opportunities for volunteers to accompany me on my field work. Please let me know you are interested in joining my team by email to jmalcolm-davies@hum.ku.dk.

Before coming to Copenhagen, I was a heritage interpretation consultant running my own business, JMD&Co, [www.jmdandco.com] and lecturer in business management and research methods. My doctoral research established a reliable method for measuring the effectiveness of front-of-house presentation at heritage sites. My supervisor was Professor David Airey, Head of School at the University of Surrey’s School of Hospitality Management, where I was a member of the tourism research group. My project developed theory on the relationship between visitor satisfaction and staff performance at heritage sites. My methodology had immediate commercial application and I established a consultancy to provide benchmarking services for major heritage organisations such as Historic Scotland. My methodology has since been used to allocate scarce resources at World Heritage Sites such as Edinburgh Castle, the Roman Baths in Bath, and Skara Brae, part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney.

I was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of the Highlands & Islands (Centre for Interpretation Studies) and the University of Southampton (Textile Conservation Centre). I lectured in entrepreneurship and leisure management at the University of Surrey (to August 2014), introduced costumed interpreters at Hampton Court Palace (1992 to 2004), and coordinated training for the front-of-house team at Buckingham Palace each summer (2000 to 2010).

I am also co-director of The Tudor Tailor[www.tudortailor.com], which researches and retails publications and products aimed at improving reproduction historical dress for pedagogical projects. Since 2005, my co-director Ninya Mikhaila [http://www.ninyamikhaila.com/] and I have built a collaborative team of dress historians with whom we publish books on the reconstruction of 16th century dress. Our next book The Typical Tudor will draw on my knitting research to provide instructions for making everyday garments. These will build on patterns for boys’ headwear and babies clothing available in The Tudor Child[http://www.tudortailor.com/publications/the-tudor-child/].

I was co-author and editor of The Tudor Tailor: reconstructing sixteenth century dress (2006), a pioneering book which brings together the social history of dress and instructions for making early modern garments based on primary sources. It has sold more than 10,000 copies worldwide.

I have designed and/or developed three relational databases (the online costume resource www.tudoreffigies.co.uk and two in-house facilities for researching images of 16th century children’s dress and interrogating references to dress in 16th century British wills and inventories). Results drawn from these databases are published in Textiles and text: re-establishing the link between archival and object-based research (2007), The Tudor Child: clothing and culture 1485 to 1625 (2013), and The Typical Tudor (forthcoming).

I have a postgraduate diploma in law (2012) and have volunteered for the Citizens Advice Bureau in the UK for several years providing support for clients who cannot afford professional legal advice and campaigning for changes to social policy which affect the disadvantaged.

I was a keynote speaker at Colonial Williamsburg’s conference A Reconstructed Visitable Past in Virginia (2011), giving two papers on the challenges of reconstructing historic dress for visitor experiences at historic sites. In 2002, I organised and chaired a prestigious study day at the V&A Museum, London in association with The Costume Society of Great Britain to complement the controversial Men in Skirts exhibition. I also published a commentary on the exhibition in Fashion Theory (2003).

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