Meet the Author -Hannah Carlson

Event date: 
Tuesday, September 12, 2023 - 6:00pm
Event address: 
471 Angell Street
Providence, RI 02906

Author Event with Hannah Carlson on September 12th

Join us on Tuesday, September 12th at 6:00 p.m. for a reading and discussion with Hannah Carlson, author of Pockets.

Pockets: An Intimate History of How We Keep Things Close by Hannah Carlson

“Who knew the humble pocket could hold so much history? In this enthralling and always surprising account, Hannah Carlson turns the pocket inside out and out tumble pocket watches, coins, pistols, and a riveting centuries-long social and political history.”—Jill Lepore, author of These Truths: A History of the United State

A thought-provoking microhistory of the humble pocket that uncovers what pockets reveal about us—and why it matters.

It’s a subject that stirs up plenty of passion: Why do men’s clothes have so many pockets and women’s so few? In her captivating book, Hannah Carlson, a lecturer in dress history at the Rhode Island School of Design, shows us how we tuck gender politics, security, sexuality, and privilege inside our pockets.

Throughout the medieval era in Europe, the purse was an almost universal dress feature carried by men and women alike. But when tailors stitched the first pockets into men’s trousers 500 years ago, it ignited controversy and introduced a range of social issues that we continue to wrestle with today, from  concealed pistols to gender inequality, as noted in hashtags like #GiveMePocketsOrGiveMeDeath.

This abundantly illustrated four-color book explores much more than who has pockets and why. How is it that putting your hands in your pocket can be seen as a sign of laziness, arrogance, confidence, or perversion? Walt Whitman’s author photograph, hand in pocket, for Leaves of Grass, seemed like an affront to middle class respectability. When W.E.B. DuBois posed for a portrait, his pocketed hands signaled defiant coolness.

Readers of The Golden Thread by Kassia St. Clair and The Fabric of Civilization by Virginia Postrel will be enthralled. And Pockets is a perfect gift for the legions of people obsessed with pockets and their absence, and for anyone interested in how our clothes influence the way we navigate the world.

Hannah Carlson is an authority on the history of clothing and an award-winning researcher and author. She has been featured on the podcast 99% Invisible, as well as in The Los Angeles Times, Fast Company, and The New Yorker. A senior lecturer in the apparel design department at the Rhode Island School of Design, she has acted as the faculty fellow in Costumes and Textiles at the RISD Museum and trained as a Conservator of Costume and Textiles at the Fashion Institute of Technology. A graduate of Wesleyan University, she earned a master’s degree from FIT, and a Ph.D. in material culture from Boston University.