Mary Alice Casto

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PH.D., 2015, Apparel Studies: Dress, History and Culture, University of Minnesota
M.S., 2002, Textiles and Clothing (History Concentration), Iowa State University
B.S.S., 1996, American History, Art History, Theater Costume, Ohio University

In my research and teaching, I am interested in the intersections between design, individuals, and culture/society through the lenses of 1) material culture and history 2) aesthetics and aesthetic response and 3) sociological aspects of design, textiles, and dress. Central to this is the concept that material (physical) objects (i.e., clothing, textiles, paintings, advertisements) express, mediate, and make culture visible. Therefore, investigating how humans use and think about objects provides not only information about the object, but knowledge of its meaning and function in a given time period/society/culture. Within this context, my current research examines the relationship of individual identity and “modernity” in the 20th century; how was modern identity communicated and created through the form, marketing, and consumption of clothing and other designed objects, including furniture, interiors, architecture, and decorative objects. Another research thread investigates how individuals use dress to express and communicate cultural identity when culture shifts through the process of immigration.