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Memories of Dress: Recollections of material identities - Book Cover

Celebrating the publication of a Bloomsbury edited collection

I am delighted to share with the University of Chester alumni community that Bloomsbury Publishing has released the edited collection Memories of Dress: Recollections of material identities, co-edited by myself and my Manchester Metropolitan University colleagues Dr Alison Slater, from Manchester School of Art, and Dr Susan Atkin, from Manchester Fashion Institute. At the heart of the volume are auto/biographical narratives of everyday dress and life. It combines approaches from dress history, fashion studies and material culture to explore ways in which dress is remembered and how narratives of personal dress practices fit into or subvert wider concepts of fashion and style locally, nationally, and internationally.

Links to my Doctoral Study

My solo chapter in the volume, entitled ‘“The American Look”: Memories of not fitting in’, has developed directly out of my doctoral study at University of Chester, completed without corrections in 2017. I began my interdisciplinary, practice-based PhD in 2012 with Professor Jeff Adams in the Department of Education and Children’s Services, and Dr Julian Waite in the Department of Music, Media and Performing Arts. Entitled The Artists’ Book: Making as embodied knowledge of practice and the self, the doctorate considered the ways in which we develop confidence through creative endeavor. Utilising methods of autoethnography and practice as research, I examined and developed artists’ books as representations of my childhood in American suburbia, including suburban dress, to better understand my identity through creative practice.

The Road to Publication

I wanted to share the road to publication, which most doctoral alumni will either be engrossed in or in preparation for. The concept of the book came from me on completion of my PhD in 2017 as I sought a way to continue researching and writing alongside a fulltime academic role at the University of Chester in the Department of Art and Design. I reached out to my co-editors, both of whom were previous colleagues at that point, and had research interest in dress and memory. We took some time to research publishers who may be interested in our subject, and we carried out an initial literature review of published texts considering similar topics to ensure our focus was unique.

Writing the Book Proposal

We chose to write a book proposal to Bloomsbury because of its excellent reputation for publishing respected academic texts on fashion, clothing, and dress subjects and themes. This proposal took some time to write due to life events (new jobs and new babies) and contacting potential chapter authors, but by June 2019 we received our first peer reviews and by October 2019 we signed our contract with Bloomsbury for our first manuscript to be submitted in Summer 2020.

COVID-19 Hits

Like the rest of the world, we had no idea that a global pandemic would hit by March 2020 and turn life upside down. Teaching loads increased, another baby was born, and illness hit the editorial team and our close loved ones taking some of our focus away from the book. But on we continued, as did our excellent authors who were all incredibly patient with the time between submitting a draft and receiving edited feedback.


We submitted our first manuscript in April 2022, which was returned with no corrections suggested by our anonymous peer reviewers. We then spent the next year carrying out the final proofreading, index development, and layout proofing. We received our own copies of the volume in March 2023, six years from when we first began discussing it – a thrilling moment indeed.

Lessons Learned

Lots of lessons were learned along the way of course, the first is that an edited volume can be a great way to enter the publishing arena, but I suggest you choose your editorial team well. Alison, Susan, and I had worked with each other for years prior to beginning the edition project and so we knew how professional, dedicated, and organized we were. This bond was essential during some of the more difficult months, and the team stepped up to keep things moving forward.

Secondly, follow the publisher’s expectations, advice, and formatting guides fully and to the letter. We are sure this helped us get through the hurdle of the first manuscript submission.

The third lesson would be to regularly return to peer reviewers’ feedback on the book proposal while structuring the volume and writing the Introduction. The reviewers will be well published experts in the field you are writing in, trust their suggestions and critique. Doing this enabled us to structure the introduction well to complement the volume.

Finally, be highly organized and back all files up. We used Sharepoint very successfully to keep updated on tasks and responsibilities, track changes were crucial with three pairs of eyes on every chapter, and we used visual prompts like text colour changes and highlighting to stay up-to-date at a glance.

I hope you have found this description of our journey from a spark of an idea to a published collection helpful. I have learned such a great deal and I wanted to share some of it with you. I wish you all the very best in your publishing projects.


Dr Elizabeth Kealy-Morris, PhD

Class of 2017 (Doctoral study from 2012 to 2017)

Senior Lecturer and Researcher, Manchester Fashion Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University

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