Textiles and Dress

Textiles and Fashion in Theory and Practice through 3000 Years

An interdisciplinary course in Archaeology, History, European Ethnology and Fashion Studies at the Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen

Time: 2 - 13 July 2018

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

The course focuses on different historic and cultural theories, with an emphasis on critical and analytical approaches to the field and, in the wider context, an explores the entanglement of textile and fashion in characterising cultures and societies. The summer school course is taught by excellent researchers, who survey textile and fashion from the Bronze Age to the present day in six linked modules. These demonstrate the pioneering, interdisciplinary approach, which puts the Centre for Textile Research at the forefront of textile and fashion scholarship.

In each module, there will be specialist literature and other course material related to textiles and fashion, supported by readings from classic works of theory and methodology. In this course, masters students will be introduced to the analysis of textiles and textile technology and how new scientific methods and theoretical approaches can be applied to textile research and fashion 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 which interweave the themes of textile techniques and craft, knitting history and technology, new analytical tools from the sciences used in the humanities, and the interpretation of the multiple meanings of dress and fashion in society, as markers of status, identity and power, or as gendered gifts.

Course structure

Science and the humanities at a new crossroads: Analytical tools for organic material studies

There is now a wide variety of innovative scientific tools available for the study of ancient and historical organic materials. These draw on pioneering work in medicine and industry to reveal new findings from archaeological evidence such as garments and footwear. Raw materials including wool, hair, flax, leather, bone, teeth and feathers are revealing revolutionary insights for scholars working in the humanities. These also offer new challenges for those developing scientific methods with forensic applications in non-traditional arenas. This module introduces these scientific techniques and explores how they are applied to textiles and other organic materials in the fields of archaeology, history, ethnology, anthropology and beyond. It looks at how the technologies have evolved from their initial applications to offer new perspectives in the humanities.

Tutors: Jane Malcolm-Davies, Christina Margariti
Activities: Lectures, problem-based learning workshops, analytical work with microscopes and other digital tools

Early modern knitting in Europe: materials and methods

The development of knitting was a key technological innovation for which there is little published scientific evidence. This module draws on a study of more than 100 knitted caps from the early modern era in museum collections. Despite their diverse locations, they have remarkable similarities in their materials and manufacture which illustrate trade in knitted caps as consumer goods in the emerging early modern European marketplace, demonstrate how knitting created new fashions for men indicative of rank and status, and facilitate theory on the cultural significance of the hat as an essential male accessory. 

Tutor: Jane Malcolm-Davies and guest lecturers
Activities: Lectures, problem-based learning workshops, knitting techniques, analysis of early modern knitted material

Textiles in antiquity (Egypt, Greece, Roman world)

Tutors: Cecilie Brøns, Marie-Louise Nosch, Magdalena Öhrman, Elza Yvanez, Maria Mossakowska-Gaubert
Activities: Lectures, assignments, tapestry experience, visit to the National Museum of Denmark and the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

Textile production and textile tools

In this module, students will gain insights into how the production of textiles can be studied and interpreted in different societies (for example, in Greece, Egypt, Scandinavia) and time periods (ancient Greece, late antique Egypt and Early Medieval Europe). They will also be introduced to textile technology via hands-on practice.

Tutors: Eva Andersson Strand, Maria Mossakowska-Gaubert, Magdalena Öhrmann
Activites: Experimental archaeology, Lejre visit, practical work sessions

Fashion, culture and identity

In this module, the students will learn about different theoretical understandings of fashion and the history of fashion in the modern and postmodern world. An interdisciplinary approach to the contested field of fashion studies is emphasized. Students will explore the various methods from semiotic readings to ethnographic descriptions and interpretations. The aim of the module is for students to develop critical, analytical thinking through fashion as one approach to the study of culture and society.

Tutors: Marie Riegels Melchior, Jane Malcolm-Davies
Activities: Micro-ethnographic field studies, representational studies of fashion imagery, visit museums 

Target student group

The course is aimed at BA and MA students in history, ethnology, art history, archaeology anthropology, and others interested who will gain knowledge of how to include textiles and fashion in a general discussion on culture and society.

Teaching and learning methods

These include lectures, group work, written assignments, museum visits, visits to fashion companies, interviews, reading, practical textile work, tests of textile techniques and controlled experiments in workshops, and viewing fashion films. Practical work sessions include spinning, weaving, knitting, crochet, embroidery and dyeing. Some sessions will be filmed with the purpose of creating a distance-learning programme on ancient textiles, in association with the University of Wales. Magdalena Öhrman is directing this event.

Literature and workload

The workload amounts to a total of 400 hours equalling 15 ETCS. The hours are divided into three segments: 200 hours preparation in advance and reading during the course, 120 hours of attendance while in Copenhagen (12 days of 10 hours), and 80 hours writing the final assignment.

Students must be prepared for a considerable amount of reading before the course.

Online learning

The summer school takes advantage of educational information technology and digital resources. Students will require a laptop and familiarity with social media, internet research, email and other online activities. Much of the preparation work required will be delivered via the university’s online learning platform for which an up-to-date internet browser and sufficient memory and permissions to download software will be required.

Course format at UCPH

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]

Module T5: Historical Project (HHIB10511E) [Curriculum for Bachelor´s Elective Programme in History, 2013-Curriculum]

Teaching methods

The TFTP summer school is organised into six modules, which each last between two and four days. The modules are delivered in activity sessions (usually consisting of two-hour lectures and a one-hour supervised exercise), workshops, museums visits and practical workshops.


The TFTP summer school will end with an optional written assignment, no longer than 25 standard pages (2400 keystrokes). The deadline for submission this exam online is 31 August 2018.


Please note that the summer school will only be held if there are 20 students who have officially registered and paid the tuition fees by 1 May 2018.

First application deadline: 1 April 2018
Payment due: Mid-April 2018

Second application deadline in case of available places: 1 June 2018

Upload documents and fill in application form: here

Credit transfer students [in Danish: Meritstuderende] enrolled at other Danish educational institutions – or students at the Faculty of Humanities with a field of study other than History [in Danish: Enkeltstående kandidattilvalg] – must attach this form as well: Indskrivning på enkelte kurser

Further information

Marie-Louise Nosch (academic content): nosch@hum.ku.dk
Christian Thorup (admission and registration): chrthorup@hum.ku.dk
Henrik Lerdam (exams/Curricula/Syllabus): lerdam@hum.ku.dk

For questions concerning tuition fees, visa invitations and accommodation in Copenhagen

International Admissions, The Faculty of Humanities
E-mail: gueststudents@hum.ku.dk
telephone: +45 40 47 11 97

Tuition fees: https://humanities.ku.dk/education/summer/#Tuition-fees

See also: https://studies.ku.dk/summer/ and https://humanities.ku.dk/education/summer/