Faculty Research and Creative Activities

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.

Headshot of Peggy Dillon

Communications Professor Peggy Dillon

During her spring 2015 semester sabbatical, Peggy Dillon—associate professor of communications and Sextant Editor—worked on researching and writing a memoir. Her book, in the tradition of outdoor journalism, synthesizes her outdoor and travel adventures in the 1970s and 1980s within the social and cultural context in which those experiences occurred. Her chronicles include working in the Appalachian Mountain Club’s high huts in New Hampshire, being a winter weather observer atop Mount Washington, working as a cook at an Antarctica field camp atop a mile-high glacier, hitch-hiking around New Zealand and Ireland, and being a bingo agent at Harrah’s Casino in Reno. The book will be supplemented by oral history interviews, a website, and an array of convergent digital and social media platforms that will provide readers with an additional multimedia storytelling experience—a strategy that will help create and find new audiences. As part of her research, Peggy attended the annual Independent Book Publishers Association conference in April 2015, where she immersed herself in up-to-date print and digital publishing trends and learned how to recognize and develop appropriate markets for this book based on topic and content.

Peggy is a freelance writer and former newspaper reporter, magazine editor, historian and speechwriter. In her eight years at Salem State she has taught news reporting and writing, feature reporting, and other communications classes, as well as a special topics class in mountaineering and adventure journalism that involved taking students on an overnight field trip to the White Mountains. Her book is being written in the spirit of travel and adventure narratives by authors such as Eric Newby (A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush), Redmond O’Hanlon (Into the Heart of Borneo), Jon Krakauer (Eiger Dreams), and Bill Bryson (A Walk in the Woods)—while adding a digital convergent media component.