Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Washington's Tent on "Enfilade" and the 38th Voyage

I was delighted to contribute a reflective essay on the First Oval Office Project to the scholarly blog "Enfilade" recently. The post, which emerged from a panel at the recent American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies conference, is only a small part of what Enfilade has to offer.

38th Voyage

I'm also excited to announce that I'll be part of Mystic Seaport's "38th Voyage" this summer. The Charles W. Morgan, built in 1841, is the only wooden whaleship still afloat. This summer, she will depart on the 38th voyage of her long history, along the coasts of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Participants in the various legs of this cruise, the "38th Voyagers," are undertaking a variety of projects focusing on marine life, the history of whaling, shipboard activities, artwork, and many other subjects. My small part of this project involves sailing for a night and a day aboard the Morgan between New London, Connecticut, and Newport, Rhode Island. Even a brief time aboard the ship opens up opportunities to test assumptions about life at sea. For me, that means thinking about how clothing impacts work aboard ships, a subject connected to my longstanding interest in ready-made and work clothing in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I'm working on an understudied component of sailor clothing, protective outer garments. Sailors aboard the Morgan and other whaleships hoped jackets and hats made from painted, oiled, or rubberized cloth would keep them a bit drier in rainstorms. If all goes well, I'll construct reproductions of some sample garments for members of the Morgan's contemporary crew to test this summer. I'm looking forward to finding out how certain waterproofing formulations work, how garments affect kinesthetics and shipboard movement, what 2014 sailors wear to stay dry, and what they think about their forebears' options. Stay tuned for more on this project!

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