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Jennifer Millard Boyle of the University of Saskatchewan has written a review of Bikes & Bloomers in Vol 42, Issue 2 of the Symbolic Interaction journal. It’s a wonderful comprehensive account of the nature and structure of the book and it is clear that the reviewer really understood the aims and challenges of the research, the experimental methods used and the conclusions (and questions) reached in the end. The full review is here.

Following are a few quotes:

“By sharing seemingly small stories about a small group of Victorian women concentrated over a short period of history in the mid to late 1890s, Kat Jungnickel illustrates women’s struggles with freedom of movement and equality, a notion that still resonates today. This book is a blend of history, exploration, and ethnography. The author and research team bring history to life through recreating garment designs originally patented in the late 1890s to see how they worked and felt in practice. Jungnickel is not trying to recreate history; rather she is examining the “ideas and inventions in multi-dimensional forms” (p. 7). In doing so, she is able to illustrate through her analysis, photographs, and tactile experience what the women of that time were up against.”

“While this book will give readers a well-researched and intricate account of a niche topic, it will also leave them with bigger questions to reflect upon. How far have we really come in terms of women’s clothing designs today? Is our freedom of movement (or more broadly) still limited through the clothes we wear? It is evident in the conclusion of the book that while progress has been made, we are not there yet. On one hand, women today would find preposterous the idea of riding a bike while wearing a long skirt, a corset, and layers of heavy material. On the other, the idea of having to conform to certain acceptable social conventions or feeling limited in certain freedoms might not seem so far off.”

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