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Background

Lauren Downing Peters is a PhD student at the Centre for Fashion Studies. Prior to beginning her studies at the Centre, Lauren graduated summa kum laude from Washington University in St. Louis where she received her BA in art history and anthropology and received honors for her undergraduate thesis on the American photographer Weegee. Lauren was also among the first cohort of students in the MA Fashion Studies program at Parsons School of Design, The New School (New York, NY) where she graduated with distinction for her thesis on contemporary plus-size fashion and embodiment.

During her doctoral studies, Lauren has given papers at The Courtauld Institute of Art, Oxford University and Kolding University. She also organized an international PhD workshop entitled "Fashion at the Body" at which Caroline Evans and Joanne Entwistle served as convenors.

Lauren has contributed to the Bloomsbury online fashion archive and her research has been published in the journals Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, Fashion Theory Russia, Textile History, Journal of Curatorial Studies, Vestoj,* Fashion Practice, *Journal of Design Strategies, Canadian Review of American Studies and Cuaderno. She has also co-authored chapters for Global Fashion Brands: Style, Luxury and History (ed. Joseph Hancock et. al) and The Encyclopedia of Ethnic Clothing in the United States (ed. Mitchell Strauss and Annette Lynch).

In addition to her research at the Centre, Lauren is also the co-founding editor of The Fashion Studies Journal, a peer-reviewed quarterly online journal and community for likeminded fashion thinkers that seeks to erode many of the barriers to and conventions of academic writing.

She is a peer reviewer for the journals Fashion Theory and Fat Studies and is on the advisory board of Ekphrasis.

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Research Interests

Lauren's research centers on the history of large-size garment manufacturing in the United States and on relationship of the fat, female body to dress. Framing first the "stout" body and later the "plus-size" body as products of fashion discourse, she examines the fat, female body as a socially and historically mutable discursive construction, effectively examining how the fat, female body has been "fashioned" by dress and by discourse throughout the twentieth century.

Lauren's research interests include fashion and the body; fashion theory and method; fashion studies pedagogy; embodiment and discourse; wardrobe studies; fashion and identity; the history of American fashion; modernity and post-modernity; consumer culture theory; fashion blogging; fashion media and mediation; and fashion curation.

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Ongoing Research

Lauren's doctoral dissertation focuses on the history of large-size dress and the "fashioning" of the stout body in the early twentieth century and that of the plus-size body in the final decades of the twentieth century. With American fashion media broadly defined (including women's and fashion magazines but also professional media like trade journals, fashion and style guides and catalogs) serving as the foundation of her research, her interests lie in how fashion discourse has given shape to the fat, female body throughout the twentieth century.

Her work will also make a methodological contribution to the field of fashion studies. Drawing upon Foucault's notion of genealogy, by focusing on two different periods (the early and the late twentieth century), her work comments on comparative history as an underutilized approach to the study of fashion history, and provides a model through which we can come to understand how the past informs the present and vice versa.

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