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News and information from the International Office at the University of Brighton

Olivia Terry

Brighton graduate wins two awards for work on Wild West women’s fashion

Olivia Terry has won two major awards for essays based on her recent graduate dissertation on the Fashion and Dress History degree at the university.

In addition to essay prizes from both the Design History Society and the Women’s History Network, Olivia – who came to Brighton from her US home state of Idaho – also won the university’s History of Art and Design programme institutional prize with her dissertation.

Entitled Worn in the Words: Women’s Relationship with Clothing and Textiles in the American West, 1836-1900, Olivia’s essay examined how historic clothing provides a unique insight into the lives of women in the American West – something widely overlooked in the vast amount of historic and media coverage of an iconic period in US history.

Olivia Terry
Olivia Terry
Madonna of the Prairie - 1920s painting by W.H.D Koerner
Madonna of the Prairie – 1920s painting by W.H.D Koerner

Previewing her graduate show earlier this year, Olivia wrote: “Clothing as a whole offers a unique and relevant perspective on women’s changing roles and responsibilities in the American West because of its capacity to be a deeply personal object, its association with ‘women’s work’, and fashion being symbolic of culture and the ‘civilized” in global Western thought.”

On her essay award successes, she said: “I wanted to thank my tutors for encouraging me to submit for these opportunities. All of you made my time in England an absolutely wonderful experience – I learned a ton and felt very supported. I hope to return to Brighton again one day.”

During her time at Brighton, Olivia also wrote about diverse volunteering placements the university arranged around the city, as well as sharing her research into freed slave dressmakers. She also wrote a piece for Brighton Museum about its fortune teller machine exhibit – and won a university lockdown art challenge which involved her posing as Ophelia in a stream! 

Olivia’s Design History Society essay success follows a double triumph for University of Brighton students in the 2020 awards, when the undergraduate prize went to Hannah Kempster for an essay entitled This is England: Representing Class through the Domestic Interior, and the postgraduate prize went to Karen Fraser for her essay That link to life, so to speak: Older Women’s Expressions of Keeping Through Photographs.

Catherine Johnson • October 11, 2021

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