Engaging Communities, Empowering Students: Fostering Cross-Cultural Connections through Dress, 1936-1958
In an fashion exhibition entitled, Engaging Communities, Empowering Students: Fostering Cross-Cultural Connections through Dress, 1936-1958, graduate student curators Emily Hayflick and Lynda May Xepoleas explore the different ways international students helped to foster cross-cultural understandings of dress on Cornell’s campus in the mid-twentieth century.
Leading up to the onset of World War II, home economists at U.S. institutions and colleges began to rethink their course offerings in order to cultivate “international friendships” between their students and home economists in universities abroad (Marlatt, 1933, p. 418). The urgency of this endeavor was summarized by Helen Canoyer, who served as the Dean of the College of Home Economics at Cornell University from 1953-1968. She stated, “The time has come when we in institutions of higher learning no longer may choose whether or not we should participate in international education” (Arny, 1964, p. 253). While discussions in the academic press were centered around how American students could tailor the knowledge they learned in the classroom to address the needs and lifestyle of those women living in different countries, a number of international students at Cornell directly influenced the representation of their cultural forms and practices through lectures, demonstrations, exhibitions, publications, and their own self-fashioning practices. Engaging Communities, Empowering Students focuses on the different stories and styles of students who attended Cornell in the mid-twentieth century and utilized dress to help to foster cross-cultural understandings between Cornell’s community and their home countries.
The exhibition will open October 15th on Level T of the Human Ecology Building and on Cornell Library’s digital exhibitions platform.
An opening reception will be held Thursday, October 28th at 5:00pm.