Faculty Research and Creative Activities

Professor Anna Rocca and Dora Carpenter-Latiri at the NeMBLA conference

World Languages Professor Anna Rocca

My sabbatical leave in spring 2015 gave me new perspectives on my research and the time to publish a book chapter and a peer-reviewed article. As the director of the French and Francophone Literatures Area at the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA), I also had the opportunity to organize a unique international cultural event at the 2015 NeMLA Conference in Toronto, Canada. I invited Tunisian professor, author, and photographer Dora Carpenter-Latiri and organized her photo exhibition entitled Tunisian Women of the Book: Encounters with Remarkable Women. Senior lecturer at the University of Brighton in the UK, in 2013/2014 Carpenter-Latiri conducted fieldwork in Tunisia and France and took the photo-portraits of fifteen women writers, academics, editors, artists. Carpenter-Latiri’s exposition was the first of its kind in the US and had an audience of at least 3000 people. At the conference, I also proposed, organized and chaired the roundtable: 21st Century Tunisian Women Writers’ Literary Production and presented a paper entitled: Tunisia: Representations of Women’s Solidarity, Yesterday and Today.

Salem State's 2015 summer grant allowed me to attend an international conference in the historical literary forum of Cerisy-La-Salle in Normandy, France, which eventually set up promising collaborative research. The International Cultural Centre of Cerisy-la-Salle is a prestigious venue for intellectual and scholarly encounters and an important reference in the history of French intellectual life. I attended two seminars over the course of seven days: 1. Hybridizations and Tensions in North African and Sub-Saharan Narratives and 2. Writings About the Self, Writing About the Body. During the week, approximately sixty invited speakers from all over the world presented their most recent literary critical works. The conference was impressive and the castle where we lodged was absolutely breathtaking during the day and overly scary at night.

I was also elected as the Regional Representative of Women in French (WIF) in New England and Eastern Canada. WIF is an MLA Allied Organization and a scholarly association devoted to the promotion of the study of French and Francophone women authors.

Snibston Museum Corset

Theatre and Speech Communications Professor Jane Hillier-Walkowiak

My sabbatical focus was the study of several period corsets located in museums in the British Isles. My goal was to make iterations of these corsets for use in theatrical productions.

The corset featured here is of one of the corsets housed at the Snibston Discovery Museum in Coalville England (now closed).

Corsets from the 1700’s accentuate the neck and décolletage, and elongate the torso. The corset continues over the wearer’s hipbones, at which point the fabric was split to allow for the flare of the hips. The corset closes in the back with a central laced opening. Two seams sweep from the armscye area to the bottom front, which serves to accentuate the length of torso. There is also a center-front seam that is unusual; it is possible this was done to save fabric, as it was probably a very expensive fabric for the time period.

For my re-iteration of this corset I used coutil as the base fabric. Coutil wasn’t developed as a fabric until the later part of the 1800’s but it far surpasses other fabrics for sturdiness and durability. Specifically designed for the corset industry, coutil is very dense and stiff without being bulky; this density of weave helps to stop boning from poking through. I used a combination of plastic and steel bones to bone the corset. The piping on the seams of the corset serves a practical as well as aesthetic function. The piping is a silk covered cotton twist cord, preventing the seams from stretching; this was often a necessary addition as the seams run on the crosswise grain of the fabric and can stretch the seams, distorting the fabric and altering the fit when cinched around the wearer. An embroidered taffeta was used as the outer, or shell, fabric.