Textile and Fashion in Theory and Practice through 3000 Years

An interdisciplinary course of Archeology, History, European Ethnology and Fashion Studies at the Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen.
BA-level (15 ECTS) Information on exam
MA-level (15 ECTS) Information on exam

Textiles and fashion are essential aspects of the human condition. We dress, appear and communicate through fabrics and other kinds of body adornments. But over the course of time, we have changed practices for production, mediation and the use of textiles and fashion, as well as theories through which to conceive fashion and textile. The TFTP summer school provides a survey of the history of textile and fashion from prehistoric time to the present in the geographical area of Scandinavia, Europe and the Middle East.

Focused on different historic and cultural theories, the course further emphasizes the introduction of critical and analytical approaches to understand the subject field and in the wider context understanding entanglement of fashion and textile in constituting cultures and societies.

Student target group

The course is aimed especially at future MA history, ethnology, art history, archeology students and others interested who will gain knowledge of how to include textiles and fashion in a general discussion on culture and societies.


The summer school course is taught by excellent fashion and textile researchers and surveys the interdisciplinary field of textiles and fashion from the Bronze Age until today. In each module, there will be texts and course material related to textiles and fashion, backed up with readings of essential classical works of theory and methods.

In this course MA students will be introduced to the analysis of textiles and textile technology as well as how new scientific methods and theoretical approaches can be applied to textile research and fashion studies. Furthermore, emphasis is on the theories and practice of cultural studies. The course will cover a wide chronological and geographic area from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the New World.

The summer school is composed of six modules interweaving the themes of textile techniques and craft, knitting technology and history, new analytical tools from the sciences used in the humanities and in textile research, and the interpretation and multiple meanings of dress and fashion in society, as markers of status, identity and power, or as gendered gifts.


You will read primary sources on textiles, clothing, trade, production and consumption, and study textile artefacts and textile tools. Furthermore you will read contemporary fashion theory, post-structuralist and feminist cultural theory, economic theory, classical anthropological theory.

Course objectives

Clarification of some of the objectives stipulated in the curriculum.

After the course students will be able to:

  • have knowledge and understanding of the historical dimension to textile and fashion production, mediation and use
  • have knowledge and understanding of the prevalent theories of textile and fashion across disciplinary boundaries of archeology, history, ethnology and fashion studies
  • have knowledge of various types of important primary sources about this history of textiles and fashion
  • have knowledge of methods underlying the theories of the above mentioned
  • present skills in critical analysis and evaluation of conflicting theories
  • have a clear understanding of the methodologies and difficulties of handling different types of sources, with varying degrees of validity and quality
  • have a technical and chronological overview of textile techniques
  • have a hands-on approach to various textile techniques
  • have skills in written dissemination of the subject matter and skills in formulating a thesis statement and expand it into an original paper for your end-of-summer school written assignment
  • have competences in acting in a cross-disciplinary environment on the basis of the course teachingTil toppen


Module 1:

Science and the Humanities at a new crossroads: Analytical tools for Organic Material Studies =ATOMS, 2.- 4. August

Most preparation consists of videos from labs and courses.

Teacher: Jane Malcolm Davies
Theories: Tim Flohr Sørensen, Bruno Latour
Activities: Visit laboratories on the Department of Conservation of the National Museum, Brede.

Module 2:

Knitting: technology and cultural history (5.- 6. August)

Teachers Jane Malcolm Davies
Activities: Visit National Museum of Denmark collections.

Module 3:

Textiles as gifts (7. August)

Textiles dedicated in Greek sanctuaries and textiles as gendered gifts in Roman times.

Teachers: Cecilie Brøns, Marie-Louise Nosch, Magdalena Öhrman
Theories: Marcel Maus, Bronisław Malinowski, Paul Ricoeur
Activities: Visit to the National Museum of Denmark and the Lindos Chronicle.

Module 4:

Textile production (8. - 10. August)

In this module the students will gain insights in how the production of textile production can be studied and interpreted in different societies ( e.g. Greece, Egypt, Scandinavia) and time periods (ancient Greece, late antique Egypt and Early Medieval Europe). Furthermore they will be introduced to textile technology via hands-on practise.

Teachers: Eva Andersson Strand, Maria Mossakowska-Gaubert, Cailin Marjory Tamar
Theories : Karl Marx, Pierre Lemonnier, material culture studies
Activites: Experimental archaeology, Lejre visit, practical work sessions.

Module 5:

Fashion, culture and identity (11. - 13. August)

In this module the students will learn about different theoretical understandings of fashion and the history of fashion in the modern and postmodern world. How the field of studying fashion is contested and interdisciplinary will be emphasised as well as the various methods studying fashion from semiotic readings to ethnographic descriptions and interpretations. The aim of the module is that students will learn critical, analytical thinking through fashion in the study of culture and society.

Teachers: Marie Riegels Melchior, Corinne Thepaut-Cabasset, Jane Malcolm-Davies.

Theories: From classical thinkers such as T. Veblen, G. Simmel, R. Barthes, to  P. Bourdieu, B. Latour and D. Harraway. From fashion theory E. Wilson, L. Taylor, C. Evans,  J. Entwistle, S. Woodward among others.

Activities: Micro ethnographic field studies, representational studies of fashion imagery, museums visit to Designmuseum Danmark.

Module 6:

Summing up, evaluation and preparation of assignments (14. August)

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, group work, written assignments, museum visits, visits to fashion companies, interview, reading, practical textile work, tests of textile techniques and controlled experiments in workshop, seeing fashion films. Practical work sessions in the evenings (knitting, crochet, embroidery and felting). Some sessions will be filmed with the purpose of creating a distance-learning program on ancient textiles, in association with the University of Wales. Magdalena Öhrman is directing this event.


Historical core area 2: Academic writing with focus on source analysis (HHIK03741E) [Curriculum for Master´s Programme in History, 2015-Curriculum].

Historical core area 2: Academic writing with focus on source analysis (HHIK03741E) [Curriculum for the Master’s Minor in History, 2015-Curriculum]Til toppen

The course is implemented only if a minimum of 20 students have registered and paid tuition fees by 1. May 2017


BA-level (15 ECTS) Information on exam
MA-level (15 ECTS) Information on exam

For questions concerning tuition fees, visa invitations and accommodation in Copenhagen, please contact Education & Student Services, The Faculty of Humanities: gueststudents@hum.ku.dk or +45 40 47 11 97.

For more information, please refer to:
https://studies.ku.dk/summer/ and  https://humanities.ku.dk/education/summer/  

Application deadline: 1. April 2017

Second application deadline in case of available seats: 1. June 2017. Please note that applicants submitting their application after 1. April 2017 may not be able to get accommodation through the UCPH Housing Foundation.

Application form: Download the application form here

Credit transfer students [in Danish: Meritstuderende] enrolled at other Danish universities should also attach this form in the application:
Indskrivning på enkelte kurser

Payment due: Mid-April 2017
Course: 2.-14. August 2017

Deadline for submission of take-home assignment: 31. August 2017

For further information, please contact:
Marie-Louise Nosch (academic content): nosch@hum.ku.dk
Christian Thorup Lund (admission and registration): chrislund@hum.ku.dkTil toppen