Sarah Johnson


Hmm, my background is not traditionally academic. My BA degree is in history, though I started out designing clothes for theater and entertainment, professionally. This stage of my career taught me to take my work, but not myself, seriously. I've done jobs that range from the sublime (big budget/big designers/stars/egos) to the ridiculous (glueing eyes back onto woodpecker heads for the Macy's Thanksgiving parade), and have twenty years of experience teaching design history and the history of technology. My MA is in the history of clothing, and I wrote my dissertation about the industrial development of women's clothing in American department stores 1850-1900, using mail order catalogs as primary source material. I finished my MA in 1990 in NYC and have done some museum curatorial work and have had a number of fellowships to do research in museum collections nationally. At 48, I feel a bit neolithic about my tech skills and my approach to technology, though I feel I can contribute significantly in terms of historical content. I have used Blackboard, can scan images for Powerpoint presentations, have set up and used relational databases in research but I need some new models about how to think digitally. When you are learning a foreign language, eventually you reach a point where you stop translating and start thinking in the language--that is where I would like to get digitally because not having these skills is impeding me, professionally.