Dr. Serena Dyer

Historian of Dress, Consumption & Material Culture

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Dr. Serena Dyer

Lecturer in History of Design and Material Culture

De Montfort University, UK

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Dr Serena Dyer FRHistS AFHEA is a historian of dress, consumption, and material culture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. To Serena, objects resonate with human stories which are told in stitches and brushstrokes. Her first book, Material Lives: Women Makers and Consumer Culture in the 18th Century, was published by Bloomsbury in 2021. Her current research projects include work on the performance of British patriotism through dress, the history of buying British, historicism and sartorial temporality, and recreation and remaking dress as a historical methodology.

Serena completed her PhD at the University of Warwick in 2016. She is now Lecturer in History of Design and Material Culture at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. She has previously taught at the University of Hertfordshire and the University of York. Before returning to academia, Serena was Curator of the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture and Assistant Curator at the National Portrait Gallery. She regularly appears on BBC radio.


Research & Publications


The Labour of the Stitch: Making and Remaking Fashionable Dress in Georgian England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023 (forthcoming, under contract).

Material Lives: Women Makers and Consumer Culture in the 18th Century. London: Bloomsbury, 2021.

Edited Collections

Embodied Experiences of Making in Early Modern Europe: The Body, Gender, and Material Culture, edited with Sarah Bendall. Amsterdam, NL: Amsterdam University Press, 2023 (forthcoming, under contract).

Shopping and the Senses: A Sensory History of Retailing and Consumption. London: Palgrave, 2022 (forthcoming, under contract).

Disseminating Dress: Britain’s Fashion Networks 1500-1960, edited with Jade Halbert and Sophie Littlewood. London: Bloomsbury, 2022 (forthcoming, under contract).

Material Literacy in Eighteenth-Century Britain: A Nation of Makers, edited with Chloe Wigston Smith. London: Bloomsbury, 2020.

Journal Articles

“‘I have been a collector of costumes”: Women, Dress Histories, and the Temporalities of 18th Century Fashion’, History, vol.106 no. 372 (2021): 578-596.

‘State of the Field: Material Culture’, History, vol.106 no.370 (2021): 282-292.

‘Barbara Johnson’s Album: Material Literacy and Consumer Practice, 1746-1823’, Journal for Eighteenth Century Studies 42.3 (2019): 263-282.

‘Masculinities, Wallpaper, and Crafting Domestic Space within the University, 1795-1914’, Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, 14.2 (2018).

Shopping and the Senses: Retail, Browsing and Consumption in Eighteenth-Century England’, History Compass, 12.9 (2014): 694-703.


Chapters in Edited Collections

‘Portable Patriotism: Britannia and Material Nationhood in Miniature’. In Chloe Wigston Smith and Beth Fowkes Tobin (eds.), Small Things in the Eighteenth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022 (forthcoming, under contract).

‘Shopping and Stitching: The Material Literacy of the Consumer’, in Serena Dyer and Chloe Wigston Smith (eds.), Material Literacy in Eighteenth-Century Britain: A Nation of Makers. London: Bloomsbury 2020, 99-116.

‘"Magnificent as well as Singular": Hester Thrale's Polynesian Court Dress of 1781’, in Gerald Egan (ed.), Fashion and Authorship: Literary Production and Cultural Style from the Eighteenth to the Twenty-First Century. London: Palgrave, 2020, 43-62.

‘Comfort in the College: Wallpaper and the Student Room as a Domestic Haven in 19th-Century Cambridge’, in Jon Stobart (ed.), The Comforts of Home in Western Europe, 1700-1900. London: Bloomsbury, 2020, 208-213.

‘Fashioning Consumers: Ackermann’s Repository of Arts and the Cultivation of the Female Consumer’, in J. Batchelor and M. N. Powell (eds.), Women’s Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain: 1690-1820s: The Long Eighteenth Century. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018, 474-487.

‘Training the Child Consumer: Play, Toys, and Learning to Shop in Eighteenth-Century Britain’, in Megan Brandow-Faller (ed.), Childhood by Design: Toys and the Material Culture of Childhood, 1700-present. London: Bloomsbury, 2018, 31-45.


Media, Events & Journalism

Serena has written for publications such as History Today and Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, appeared on TV as an on-screen expert, curated international exhibitions, presented at numerous public talks and events, and regularly appears on BBC radio.
A selection of highlights can be seen below. 
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History Today
An American Aristocrat's Guide to Great Estates
Buying British History Today article
David Olusoga Serena Dyer in conversation
Chawton Jane Austen Talk