Robin Netherton visits the Philadelphia area!
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I'm pleased to announce that Robin Netherton, an
independent scholar specializing in medieval clothing,
will visit the Philadelphia, PA area on Saturday,
February 28, 2004 for a series of lectures about
feminine clothing styles of the 14th and 15th
centuries. Ms. Netherton will present five signature
The Gothic Fitted Dress
The Greenland Gored Gown
Will the Real Sideless Surcote Please Stand Up?
The 15th-Century V-Neck Gown
The Problem of Women's Heraldic Dress
The day begins with a casual breakfast reception at
9am followed by Ms. Netherton's slide-enhanced
lectures starting at 10am sharp and going until
dinnertime. Small breaks between lectures and a lunch
break are included. The beautiful Bryn Mawr College
campus provides the setting for this day of learning
and information exchange.
For more details, see
*** Admission to this event is by advance registration
only. There will be no at-door admissions. Reserve
your space early! ***
-Tasha Kelly McGann
- Could someone speak on this lady's knowledge and research. I am
thinking of going (classes on construction are always a good seminar to
- --- In Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com, "Lisa Carter" <potterkd2@v...>
> Could someone speak on this lady's knowledge and research. I amseminar to
> thinking of going (classes on construction are always a good
> take). Thanks.Hi Kayleigh!
Robin is a bit of a legend in SCA circles, and is respected in the
academic community. She was once a part of the SCA, but is now
focused on independent study. Her method seems to be to closely
study the art and any extant clothing of a particular period, cross-
reference them with period texts and the various interpretations of
costume that have developed since then, and then work out theories
of construction and evolution of selected styles from that. She is
generally highly respected and I hear her lectures are phenomenal.
She has traveled extensively throughout America and Europe to
photograph many works of art which she uses to fill out her
lectures. She tends to focus on feminine clothing from the 12th
through the 15th centuries, so much of her work is gleaned from art
and text of those times. Here's her bio from my web flyer:
"Robin Netherton is an independent scholar specializing in dress of
the Middle Ages. Since 1982, she has given lectures and workshops
for academic audiences, historical societies, reenactment groups,
and writers' organizations, both on practical aspects of period
costume and on costume as an approach to social history, art
history, and literature. She is co-editor (with Gale Owen-Crocker)
of the academic journal Medieval Clothing & Textiles. As founders of
the study group DISTAFF, she and Dr. Owen-Crocker organize several
sessions on medieval dress and textiles each year at the
International Congresses on Medieval Studies. Ms. Netherton's
research focuses on the development of the cut of Western European
clothing in the 12th through 15th centuries, and also on the
depiction and interpretation of clothing by artists and historians.
Her analysis of the construction of an early Norman dress style,
published in the Spring 2001 Costume Research Journal, was reprinted
in the Winter 2002 Tournaments Illuminated. Robin has a web site in
progress at http://www.netherton.net/robin/."
Yes, you should come! :^D (I'm biased, though.)
> Robin is a bit of a legend in SCA circles, and is respected in the*snip*
> Her analysis of the construction of an early Norman dress style,Do you (or does anyone) know if she's published anything on 14th/15th
> published in the Spring 2001 Costume Research Journal, was
century clothing (ie gothic fitted dress, sideless surcte, etc)?
I've no idea if she'll ever have a lecture close enough to where I am
for me to attend :-(
> Do you (or does anyone) know if she's published anything on 14th/15thWhile she does have lectures on the gothic fitted dress (a term she
> century clothing (ie gothic fitted dress, sideless surcte, etc)?
> I've no idea if she'll ever have a lecture close enough to where I am
> for me to attend :-(
coined, I believe) and the sideless surcote, as far as I know, she has
not published anything on those subjects. Also, as far as I know, she
won't be publishing anything anytime soon. Sorry...
- Also remember that her theories are just that, theories. No matter
how prettily she packages them, or how many paintings she puts
together, they are theories until someone rips into a grave from the
period and place and finds an intact gown.
Just a bit of advice.
> Also remember that her theories are just that, theories. No matter1. 'Theory' is Not equivalent to 'wild-ass guess'.
> how prettily she packages them, or how many paintings she puts
> together, they are theories until someone rips into a grave from the
> period and place and finds an intact gown.
Perhaps you could get confirmation from anyone you might possibly know in
(such as, perhaps, your sweetie)
2. Robin has great hopes of the Hull finds, as so many of us do. The
preliminary findings already published are so tantalizing.
3. Yes, I'm biased--I've heard most of her lectures twice & quite lust
after her slides. Her theories are based on the closest extant garments
with minimal assumptions which she explains and labels as assumptions, with
all the confirmation she can get from pictorial and sculptural arts,
inventories, and other texts contemporary to the fashion.
4. There is no one true answer to the construction of the gothic fitted
gown, the versatile layer gown, the 'cotehardie'.
Even I admit that, and I have found Robin's evidence and logic very
Ann in CT
> > Also remember that her theories are just that, theories. Noknow in the sciences. (such as, perhaps, your sweetie)
> 1. 'Theory' is Not equivalent to 'wild-ass guess'.
> Perhaps you could get confirmation from anyone you might possibly
I think Despinia was just pointing that out to make sure no-one
takes her as gospel or anything. Besides, a lot of what people
believe in (and risk their lives on-- ie space-travel) are "just
theories"... a "fact" is preitty hard to prove... ie,
Newton's "laws" don't always work.
> 2. Robin has great hopes of the Hull finds, as so many of us do.The preliminary findings already published are so tantalizing.
yeah... anyone fancy a roadtrip? ;)
> 3. Yes, I'm biased--I've heard most of her lectures twice & quitelust> after her slides. Her theories are based on the closest
...but her work on this not being published is a bit of a bad sign:
it means either 1)publishers don't considder it "good enough" yet or
2) she's not satsified with it/ready to send it off for peer-
review. Plus, without it being published, people like me get (let's
see: she's doing primary/sencondary research, you hearing it's
tertiary, so my reading your notes would be... quartirary?... rather
low on the food-chain, at any rate!) info!
> ...but her work on this not being published is a bit of a bad sign:Robin is going to be publishing articles as soon as the new journal that she
> it means either 1)publishers don't considder it "good enough" yet or
> 2) she's not satsified with it/ready to send it off for peer-
> review. Plus, without it being published, people like me get (let's
> see: she's doing primary/sencondary research, you hearing it's
> tertiary, so my reading your notes would be... quartirary?... rather
> low on the food-chain, at any rate!) info! >>
and Gale Owen-Crocker are editing is up and running.
Something to keep in mind is that Robin uses *lots* of slides to guide the
attendees through the evolution of the theory. Publishing in the format
that she lectures in would mean getting permission to include each and every
one of those images - time consuming and quite expensive! (She and I
discussed this during her recent visit to Seattle to lecture.)
In service, I remain
- Hi folks,
I don't think any of us have to feel defensive or even disagree on
any of this, as Robin herself will be the first to admit that she's
offering us the results of 20 years of study in the areas of art
history, textual sources, and archaeological research -- as _her_
view. She doesn't claim to have the gospel truth, only educated
theories resulting in plausible methods we modern-day folks can use
to reconstruct clothing as we think it was made in the time she
covers. Who can do better, given the scant extant evidence?
It is not Robin's fault if others repeat her work like it can only
be the Gospel Truth; I like to work in the same areas she does, and
I've had the same problem. I present things with as many caveats as
I can remember to muster, like "As far as I know..." or "That I've
seen so far..." etc., and well-meaning folks will still pass on some
nugget of information to someone else and say, "Because Marcele de
Montsegur said so, that's why." :^P
If you have an appreciation for period art, and enjoy delving into
historical mysteries on the topic of 14th and 15th century feminine
clothing, then these lectures are for you. You can bring your free
will and inquiring intellect and make your own decision as to
whether or not she's got it right or not. You won't be bored, though.
I too wish that Robin would publish more in this area, but she has
her reasons, I'm sure. I think she's also quite busy at present
getting a scholarly journal on medieval dress together, from the
- I never said that she stinks and her theories are a hock of hooey, I
said that they are theories, just like any other theory, and people
should remember that when sitting in the lecture.
For someone who doesn't do the SCA anymore unless she's a paid
lecturer she gets a lot of SCA press.
She also hasn't ever published anything as far as I know *and* she's
tremendously clutchy with her work. Since you've been to her
lectures so often, you will have heard the repeated admonitions to
not record her lectures, not give anyone notes from her lectures
without the caveat that they are your interpretation of her words,
not her words, and not to give her handouts to anyone who hasn't
actually taken her classes.
Her website contains a link to her posts on costume lists and the
PDF for one of her workshops which doesn't say much really about how
to make one of these dresses according to her theories, just that it
works. That's it.. oh, and a link to a picture of her in one of
these dresses. No publications. Yes, she's presented at the
Kalamazoo conference, but so have a fair number of SCA people who
*do* publish and put themselves out in the public eye for this -
Drea Leed comes immediately to mind. Drea's website contains a lot
of her research and articles, as well as those from other people on
similar subjects. Drea has also published a book. Drea has taught
at events without needing to have her expenses paid or be paid to be
there. Sure, she's still in the SCA but she's also an enthusiastic
independant scholar who wants others to see her research and use it -
unlike Robin who doesn't seem to want it out there.
Yes, many of Robin's theories make sense; however, I don't take
anyone's word as the final say on something that has absolutely no
extant garment evidence to back it up. I have yet to find the
person I believe actually walks on water when it comes to theorizing
how something was done with no physical evidence. As we've pointed
out here, even Janet Arnold made mistakes and she did have the
garments in many cases.
- --- In Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com, ACatelli@m... wrote:
>> ??? said:It's still a theory even then :)
>> Also remember that her theories are just that, theories. No matter
>> how prettily she packages them, or how many paintings she puts
>> together, they are theories until someone rips into a grave from
>> the period and place and finds an intact gown.
Moving past that into something being the carven in stone "fact"
merely takes media exposure, or prefereably a preponderance of
evidence. A garment is not a preponderance.of anything.
Honestly, I like Robin - she and I don't always agree on every little
detail, but we tend to approach these things from radically different
directions. Even so, I have to say she knows her stuff. Of course,
what do I know - I don't have anything in the professional literature
- --- In Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com, "Marc Carlson"
> Of course, what do I know - I don't have anything in theprofessional literature
> either :)Good point, Marc! Having been published somewhere 'out there' or not
is not, in and of itself, a marker of worthiness or integrity (but
it doesn't hurt, either). As Cainder also pointed out, Robin is up
against a formidable barrier, copyright-wise, in order to fully
express her theories on paper.
I, personally, will jump at my chance to spend a day looking at art
slides, but I'm a geek that way, and it is a totally separate love
from my historical clothing research. I feel like I'll be getting
double the bang for my buck. :^D
> She also hasn't ever published anything as far as I know *and*she's
She published something on 12th century clothing in the Winter 2002
edition of TI... but I kinda agree that lecturing & not publishing
(how hard is it to point to other places images can be found if you
are unable to present them in your work?) is a bit... off-putting.
Esp when not everyone can attend her lectures.
> For someone who doesn't do the SCA anymore unless she's a paidJust to ensure clarity, Robin lectures to SCA groups because the groups
> lecturer she gets a lot of SCA press. >>
invite her and she's still fond of the Society, even though she herself has
moved on. She isn't actively lobbying to lecture for the SCA - folks
approach her. I think she gets a lot of SCA press because people find her
work to be helpful and her theories make sense.
> Since you've been to herThis is to ensure that she can actually publish her work/theories in an
> lectures so often, you will have heard the repeated admonitions to
> not record her lectures, not give anyone notes from her lectures
> without the caveat that they are your interpretation of her words,
> not her words, and not to give her handouts to anyone who hasn't
> actually taken her classes.>>
academic setting. If she allows recordings or publishes her work in a
handout for the SCA audience, it will have a damaging effect on her ability
to publish it and have it be a serious academic work.
<<Drea has taught at events without needing to have her expenses paid or be
paid to be
> there. >>Drea is still an active participating member of the SCA (as far as I am
aware). Robin is not and lectures at events as a courtesy to the group. It
is not her primary interest (although she's delighted to discuss with us),
so I don't see it as unreasonable to ask for her travel to be included. If
she were not lecturing, she wouldn't be in the area.
I know that I really appreciate all of the time and energy Robin does spend
working with SCA folks and helping to get SCA folks on the presentation
schedule at Kalmazoo. Despina, I'm not sure if you realize that Robin is
one of the session organizers for K'zoo and she actively encourages and
works with SCA folks to get their information out there to the academic
community at the Congress? Without Robin's work in this area, I'm not sure
how many of them would have been accorded the same opportunity by the
(who organized Robin's lectures in Seattle last August)
- --- In Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com, "aheilvei" <aheilvei@u...> wrote:
> ...For someone who doesn't do the SCA anymore unless she's a paidYou will pardon me for this, but it's not like THAT's all that hard.
> lecturer she gets a lot of SCA press.
As an observation, people who actually do research and make it
available tend to get a lot of SCA attention. That's not a criticism
of anyone or anything - it's a system that's been quite useful for me
(not to mention good to me, and I appreicate that).
Now, I realize you are talking about theories being just that, and you
are prefectly correct. Some theories are well founded, some less so,
and it's good to be skeptical. And yes, I think she'd agree if she
Personally, while I think Robin's observations on Gothic posture as
they relate to how beauty is seen, and the use of garments to attain
this are valid (which for the folks who migh not know, doesn't mean
that I think they are true or not true - they are internally logically
supportable). I think the whole four cornered dress design is
intriguing speculation and does not contradict the evidence (note:
"speculation" in this context is not a criticism, it's simply a
statement that she's moved outside the established evidence and is
projecting an extrapilation based on that evidence. In this case that
extrapolation is I think reasonable give the current paucity of evidence).
I couldn't agree with you more that (and I hope I'm not putting worse
into your mouth here - I'm commenting on the general direction what
you have said appears to be going, not anything you've said directly)
people should keep in mind that what they are being given by any
scholar should be examined critically. Personally, I wish people
would do that with everything (television, books, academic articles,
and so forth), and not just Robin or myself, but if that's where we
have to start... Definately point out that the author has no obvious
publication (OK, I think she did publish an article in the TI a few
years ago) OTOH, the whole DISTAFF thing is pretty impressive,..
Kalamazoo doesn't give sessions to just anyone. :)
> This is to ensure that she can actually publish her work/theoriesin an
> academic setting. If she allows recordings or publishes her workin a
> handout for the SCA audience, it will have a damaging effect onher ability
> to publish it and have it be a serious academic work.Drea doesn't seem to have had that problem, or she wouldn't have
been invited back to Kalamazoo, nor would she have been able to
publish her book. So I really don't see where giving your
information to the SCA or people in the SCA would damage your
credibility with the academic community that much. No, people who
go to Kalamazoo and are SCA don't shout it from the rooftops, but if
asked, they usually fess up and are generally admired as someone who
did all the research without academic backing and resourses.
Despina, I'm not sure if you realize that Robin is
> one of the session organizers for K'zoo and she activelyencourages and
> works with SCA folks to get their information out there to theacademic
> community at the Congress? Without Robin's work in this area, I'mnot sure
> how many of them would have been accorded the same opportunity bythe
> academic community.Yes, I do know what Robin does at Kalamzaoo (and yes, I do think
that having one's own session there is impressive) and I do think
that others would have been (and were) afforded the same opportunity
as Robin. She wasn't the first SCA person to attend Kalamazoo, I'd
bet. And I know that she isn't the only person at Kalamazoo pushing
for the inclusion of independant scholars, re-creationists, and re-
enactors work to be represented and considered there.
Like I said people, I don't have anything against her or her
research, just take it with the same pinch of salt you take
Marc, you didn't put anything in my mouth with your last post, I
agree with what you said.
> > This is to ensure that she can actually publish herwork/theories in an academic setting. If she allows recordings or
publishes her work in a handout for the SCA audience, it will have
a damaging effect on her ability to publish it and have it be a
serious academic work.
>has Drea published in any academic journals? I believe they can be
> Drea doesn't seem to have had that problem, or she wouldn't have
> been invited back to Kalamazoo, nor would she have been able to
> publish her book. So I really don't see where giving your
fussy at times about whether something's been published before, and
I think *that* is what Caindeer was refereing to, rather than
the "ewww, you do SCA" thing.
- --- In Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com, "aheilvei" <aheilvei@u...> wrote:
> ...Like I said people, I don't have anything against her or herOkie dokie :)
> research, just take it with the same pinch of salt you take
> everything else.
> Marc, you didn't put anything in my mouth with your last post, I
> agree with what you said.
Which means that probably everyone should take a deep breath and avoid
posting for an hour or so after reading all the other mail in this
thread, because no one's being overly critical here by suggesting a
little critical thinking.
I will say if you are curious about why Robin doesn't publish - ask
her. My observation is that she's trying really hard to get
published, but because of the limited available spaces in academic
journals that have any interest in her topic, she's having to wait her
turn and do the slogging through. [in my case, otoh, I've been sucked
in by the demons of the Internet since it's so much easier to just put
up another wrb site, and revise the old ones, then it is to go through
that whole publication dance (in a much more limited field) every time
something new comes up. But that's MY problem. OTOH, that does
remind me I have an article on lasts to write FOR publication... ]
Just remember, if Publication was -easy- it wouldn't be a requirement
- --- In Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com, "aheilvei" <aheilvei@u...>
> For someone who doesn't do the SCA anymore unless she's a paidJust one small point here -- Robin does not require being paid. In
> lecturer she gets a lot of SCA press.
negotiating with me for the Philadelphia appearance, she said she
only requires her travel, room, and board expenses be covered so
that she is not paying her own way out-of-pocket. Rather reasonable -
- considering there's a demand for her appearances and by taking
time away from her family, she's flying to far-off places to satisfy
that demand. She likes to receive an honorarium if and only IF the
monies collected can take that hit, as it helps her keep her
prodigious slide collection maintained, covers paper costs, etc. She
doesn't set the number, either, but leaves it up to the host. I get
the distinct impression she is far from getting rich on these
appearances. (As a side note, I won't be making one penny of profit
because any leftover money after expenses will go entirely to her,
with gratitude, because I think she will have more than earned it.)
If her lectures with slides are what she's willing to offer us, I
guess I'm willing to take that, no further questions asked. No-one
owes anyone else anything when they do their own research, right?
They can offer or not offer as much or as little of it as they want
for public consumption, and that's their perogative. Some people
research for their own pleasure. I know I do. I also like to publish
what I've found on my website because it's fun to share it, and I
will chat incessantly on certain topics in forums like this (hee
hee) but that's just me. :^D Everyone else's mileage may vary, and
AFAIK, it definitely does vary. To each their own, when it comes to
In contemplitude, :^)
- marccarlson20@... wrote:
>Just remember, if Publication was -easy- it wouldn't be a requirementBut on the other hand (forgive me if someone else has already said
this), just because something has been published does not mean it should
be taken as the ultimate authority, either. My English seminar this
semester, while ostensibly about Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, also
requires us to read dozens of scholarly publications and figure out how
useful they are for helping us to analyze the play texts, understand
their historical background, etc. (Most of it is in literary theory,
but there's a lot of "new historicist" work that involves in-depth
research into things like period trade and commerce, medicine and
humoral theory, clothing, gender roles, etc.) Just as with any field of
research, some of this stuff is great, and some of it is seriously
flawed. In fact, the prof said of one unhelpful article we discussed
today, "This ought to show you how easy it can be to get published!" It
wasn't a totally derogatory statement - it would be virtually impossible
to avoid publication of all imperfect or incomplete work - but a
cautionary one. And even flawed or lacking work usually provokes
discussion and debate and further research, which is always a good thing.
In this same class today I had an amusing "You know you've been in the
SCA too long when..." moment (well, moments). We were reading John
Webster's "The White Devil" (1612) and the heroine/villainess of the
play is "Vittoria Corombona the famous Venetian Curtizan." I never knew
of the existence of this other Vittoria (based on the notorious Umbrian
noblewoman Vittoria Accorambini of Gubbio, d. 1585) until last week, but
that aside, it was very weird to be sitting in this discussion for two
hours, hearing the name "Vittoria" every other minute, and making myself
*not* respond to it. ;)
(V. knows no literary theory after Aristotle)
"...Vittoria's performances deconstruct traditional gendered antitheses
and expose them as contingent on subjective construction.....Similarly,
Vittoria's accomplished performance of masculinity exposes those
cultural paradigms that underlie the rhetorical posturing of the men in
--C. Luckyj, "Gender, Rhetoric, and Performance in 'The White Devil'"