Sophie Pitman (she/her)Pleasant Rowland Textile Specialist and Research Director, Center for Design and Material Culture

Using textiles and clothing as a lens through which to explore the world, I am interested in the entire life of objects: what they are made of, who made them and how, how they were used, and what they meant to makers, owners, observers, and collectors. I am a cultural historian specializing in early modern textiles and clothing and my training spans art history, history of science, literature and material culture studies, so I aim to approach objects from interdisciplinary perspectives. As textiles contain so much information that is not recorded in text or image, and so often only survive in fragmentary conditions, I often collaborate with other researchers, scientists, makers, and designers to investigate and reconstruct objects using hands-on, scientific, and digital methods.

My current research spans several themes: weatherproof clothing, imitation textiles, and the development of hands-on and experimental reconstruction methods. My ongoing publication projects include the results of my experiments following 16th century dye recipes and the full-size reconstruction of a renaissance doublet, and I am also working on a monograph about early modern London’s emergence as a fashion capital, and an edited volume about early modern maker spaces.

Before joining the School of Human Ecology, I was a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at UCL (London), where I researched the connection between weather, the environment and clothing. I have also held postdoctoral research positions on two major projects, Making and Knowing (Columbia University, New York) and Refashioning the Renaissance (Aalto University, Finland).

Select Publications

I have published on material culture, clothing, textiles, sumptuary law, ephemeral objects, and issues of luxury and identity. My recent publications include:

Dolled up: The material dissemination of dress in early modern Europe’ in S. Dyer, J. Halbert & S. Littlewood (eds.) Disseminating Dress: Britain’s Fashion Networks, 1600–1970 (London: Bloomsbury, 2022), 21-48.

‘Visual and Literary Representations of Shopping’ in Tim Reinke-Williams (ed.) A Cultural History of Shopping in the Early Modern Age (Bloomsbury, 2022).

Secrets of Craft and Nature in Renaissance France. A Digital Critical Edition and English Translation of BnF Ms. Fr. 640, edited by The Making and Knowing Project, Pamela H. Smith, Naomi Rosenkranz, Tianna Helena Uchacz, Tillmann Taape, Clément Godbarge, Sophie Pitman, Jenny Boulboullé, Joel Klein, Donna Bilak, Marc Smith, and Terry Catapano (New York: The Making and Knowing Project, 2020),

A white woman with red hair wearing a red shirt.


  • PhD, History, University of Cambridge
  • MA, Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, Bard Graduate Center
  • BA, History and English, University of Oxford


Office: 1235D Nancy Nicholas Hall

Phone: 608-262-3623



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