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Shirley T. Wajda

Curator of History 

 

Research Interests/Experience 

Shirley WajdaDr. Wajda has spent much of her adult life thinking and writing about the many lives of stuff—the objects humans create, buy, sell, and give, use and alter, save and destroy.  Her interdisciplinary research work explores the ways humans understand their lives, their families, and their communities through material and visual culture.  Whether a child’s handmade toy or royal scepter or a computer mouse, a physical object may be analyzed to explore how cultural meaning is created and reified, how social relations and social status are clarified, how economies function, how knowledge is secured, exchanged, and distributed.  The study of objects requires wide-ranging and creative experiment, and Dr. Wajda has incorporated in her work traditional connoisseurship, cultural anthropology, cultural studies, sociology, economics, and history.  
 
Dr. Wajda seeks to engage faculty, students, and the public in thinking about and using the MSU Museum’s collections as a means through which the humanities and the applied sciences—known as STEM—may interact and inform each other.  Such interactivity, enhanced by digital access being created by the Museum’s curators, collections manager, collections assistants, student interns, and volunteers, will transform the collection into a site of creativity.  
 

Selected Publications

“The Architect and the Teakettle.” Design Studies: A Reader, ed. Hazel Clark and David Brody.  (London:  Berg Publishers, 2009), 505-10
 
Material Culture in America:  Understanding Everyday Life.  Edited with Helen Sheumaker (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2008 
“‘A pretty custom’ Updated: From ‘Going to Housekeeping’ to Kitchen Showers in America, 1850s-1930s.” Buying for the Home: Shopping for the Domestic from the Seventeenth Century to the Present, ed. Margaret Ponsonby and David Hussey (London: Ashgate, 2008), 139-161
 
“Self, Collected.” In Family Album:  The James Rutkowski Collection of American Photographs:  Essays by Michael Hall [and] Shirley Teresa Wajda (Columbus, OH: Columbus Museum of Art, 2004), 37-72
 
“‘And a little child shall lead them’: American Children’s Cabinets of Curiosities.” In Acts of Possession:  Essays on Collecting in America, ed. Leah Dilworth (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2003), 42-65
 
“‘A Kind of Missionary Work’: The Labor and Legacy of Cincinnati’s Society Women, 1877-1922.” In Cynthia Amnéus, with essays by Marla R. Miller, Anne Bissonnette, and Shirley Teresa Wajda, A Separate Sphere: Dressmakers in Cincinnati’s Golden Age, 1877-1922, with a foreword by Timothy Rub (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press for the Cincinnati Art Museum, 2003), 175-88
 
“Phyllis Primrose Peckham: Dressed for Posterity.” With Barry Bradley and Jean L. Druesedow.  Dress:  The Journal of the Costume Society of America 29 (2002): 59-74
 
 “Kmartha.” “Martha Stewart Roundtable,” American Studies (Kansas) 42:2 (Summer 2001): 71-88; excerpted in Design Studies: A Reader, ed. Hazel Clark and David Brody (London: Berg Publishers, 2009), 135-41
 

Selected Exhibitions

“The Kokoon Arts Club: Cleveland Revels!” Stager and Blum Galleries, Kent State University Museum, 19 March 2009-28 March 2010; Cleveland Artists Foundation, Lakewood, OH, 14 May 2010-31 July 2010
 
 “Designing Domesticity: Decorating the American Home since 1876.” Curated with Terrence L. Uber.  Broadbent Gallery, Kent State University Museum, Kent, OH, 5 December 2001-18 November 2002 
 
 

Selected Honors

Research Fellowship, Center for the Arts in Society, Carnegie-Mellon University, Fall 2008
 
Research Fellowship, Center for the Humanities, Wesleyan University, 2006-07
 
Ruth Emery Book Award, The Victorian Society in America, 2004, for Cynthia Amnéus, with essays by Marla R. Miller, Anne Bissonnette, and Shirley Teresa Wajda, A Separate Sphere:  Dressmakers in Cincinnati’s Golden Age, 1877-1922, with a foreword by Timothy Rub (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press for the Cincinnati Art Museum, December 2003)
 
Smithsonian Institution Libraries/Spencer Baird Society Resident Scholarship, July-December 2004
 
Eleanor McD. Thompson Research Fellowship, Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, May 2004
 
Student Advisory Council Award for Outstanding Teaching in the Arts and Sciences, Kent State University, 1998-99 
 
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Research Fellowship, Library Company of Philadelphia, 1997
 
Hagley-Winterthur Arts and Industries Research Fellowship, 1997
 
Virginia P. and Richard F. Morgan Research Fellowship, Western Reserve Historical Society, 1996
 
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, 1994
 
Education Press of America Distinguished Achievement Award, for “1778:  Philadelphia at War,” 1991
 

Degrees

Ph.D., American Civilization, University of Pennsylvania, 1992
A.M., American Civilization, University of Pennsylvania, 1989