Quilters in the Digital Age

full name / name of organization: 
Amanda Grace Sikarskie / Michigan State University
contact email: 

When one thinks of quilters and quilting, computers, and especially Web 2.0 technologies such as social networking and virtual worlds, may be the very last thing to come to mind. After all, even in a culture boasting an increasing diversity of perspectives and voices, technology in the West continues to be constructed as a primarily masculine endeavor. And yet, women, including quilters, of all ages are using sundry digital technologies. Very little up to date work has been done in this area. Specifically, there has been a dearth of focus upon women in cyberspace. Henry Jenkins, one of the major theorists in cybercultural studies, for example, barely even mentions women in Convergence Culture, focusing his analysis on "early adopters" of the World Wide Web, a resoundingly male demographic. This belies the fact that the Internet has become an increasingly domestic space in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Compounding this dearth of research is the fact that most of the key sources on quilting and technology come from the period from the late 1980s to the mid to late 1990s. A key popular work in the field of women, quilting and digital technology is Heim and Hansen's The Quilter's Computer Companion (1998). This volume provided quilters with information about why they need a computer, how to buy a computer and peripherals, the best software for specific quilting needs, the best software for use with an 'old clunker' of a computer, using software to update the design of traditional old block styles, using software to aid sewing, embroidery and appliqué, and using software for photo transfer onto fabric. Though the book is excellent for studying quilters' attitudes toward computers and use of the Internet in the late 1990s, there is no such published study that sheds light on how quilters are using digital technologies and Web 2.0 applications today.

Just what is this place called Fiberspace? (Read: places in cyberspace related to sewing traditions and the textile arts.) Where is it? And who populates this brave new world? This anthology seeks to locate Fiberspace in both theory and in quiltmaking and scholarly practice and to explore the various uses of digital technologies by quilters and quilt scholars today. This project—the first ever to explore women's crafting identities online—has broad appeal in women's studies, textile history, and cybercultural studies, as well as the added audience of the 27 million American quilters both within and outside the academy.

Essays that address any topics regarding quilters in the digital age are invited for submission, including, but not limited to:

Quilters in the Digital Age: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives
• Tension Between the Analog and the Digital in Sewing and Quilting
• Intersection of Quilting and Digital Cultural Studies Theories
• Quiltmaking and Technological Determinism
• Feminist Analyses of Quilters Online
Quilt Products and Services in the Digital Age
• Digital Sewing Machines and Other Digital Sewing Technologies
• Quilters' usage of Computers, Peripherals and Software
• Quilting Products, Corporate Vendor Websites, and eCommerce
• 'Mom and Pop' Fabrics, Patterns and Notions Shops Online
• Sewing and Quilt Magazines Online
• Quilt and Craft Book Clubs Online
• Quilters' Use of On-Demand Digital Printing
Quilters' Online Networks
• Listservs and Online Quilt-related Discussion Groups
• Quilters' Use of Photosharing Sites
• Use of Email in Pattern Exchanges and Quilting Bees
• Quilters and Quilt Groups on Social Networking Sites
• Generational and Other Demographic Differences in the Usage of Quilt-related Digital Technologies
Quilters' Online Lives
• Quilters and Quilting in Virtual Worlds
• Quilters as Gamers
• Quilters as Bloggers
• Balancing Quilting and Motherhood Online
Quilt Scholars in the Digital Age
• Online Quilt Research Sites, such as the Quilt Index
• Online Exhibitions of Quilts
• Scholarly Networks Devoted to Quilt Study
• Information and Communication Technologies that Support Lay Scholars
• Cyberethnography and Other Methodological Concerns

Essays from a variety of disciplines (history, women's studies, American studies, museum studies, computer science, psychology, anthropology, communication and media studies, writing and rhetoric, apparel and textiles, material culture, etc.) are welcome. Submissions by graduate students, early career scholars, and lay scholars are especially encouraged.

Finished essays should be 4,000 to 7,000 words, with bibliography and citations. Deadline for submission of a brief CV (1-3 pages) and 500 word abstracts: 1 May 2010. We will send the prospectus to presses during the summer of 2010. Deadline for full papers: 1 December 2010. Final versions of papers by: 15 April 2011. Queries and abstracts should be directed to the attention of Amanda Sikarskie, Ph.D. Candidate, Michigan State University, email: tigneram@msu.edu.