Professor Regina Lee Blaszczyk

Leadership Chair in the History of Business and Society

+44 (0)113 34 33613

Summary: The history of business, society and culture; history of innovation; consumer culture in comparative perspective; history of design, fashion, colour, and retailing.

Location: Michael Sadler Building

Overview

Background

Regina Lee Blaszczyk joined the School of History as Leadership Chair in the History of Business and Society in 2013.

Professor Blaszczyk likes to do things differently! Her career has included jobs as a cultural history curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC; as an American studies professor at Boston University; and as director of the Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry at the the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia. From 2005 to 2012, she was a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania while running a consultancy dedicated to America's innovation heritage. 

She also serves on the editorial boards of Enterprise and Society and History of Retailing and Consumption. From 2009 to 2015, she was an associate editor at the Journal of Design History, the top design history journal in the humanities.

Interests and Publications

Professor Blaszczyk does research on the cultural history of business, with reference to design, fashion, colour, retailing, and advertising. Her work connects the history of the creative industries to big historical themes such as globalisation, material life and social identity, and consumer culture. She also writes about connections between the chemical industry and the creative sector, and about the history of technology.

She is the author or editor of thirteen books. Her forthcoming works include:

Fashionability: Abraham Moon and the Creation of British Cloth for the Global Market (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017).

Bright Modernity: Color, Commerce, and Consumer Culture, edited with Uwe Spiekermann (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).

European Fashion: The Creation of a Global Industry, edited with Veronique Pouillard (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017).

The Fashion Forecasters: A Hidden History of Color and Trend Prediction, edited with Ben Wubs (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018).

Her major published works include:

100 Years of Innovation: A Legacy of Pedagogy and Research. University of Delaware Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering (Lanham, MD: University of Delaware Press, and Rowman and Littlefield, 2014).

'Special Issue: Colour and Design', Journal of Design History 27, no. 3 (September 2017): 203-308. Read her introduction, 'Chromophilia: The Design World's Passion for Colour', here

history publications

TheColorRevolution is on Facebook.

The Color Revolution (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012). The Color Revolution was awarded the Sally Hacker Prize for Exceptional Scholarship that Reaches Beyond the Academy from the Society for the History of Technology in 2013. It was also named a Notable Book of 2012 by Designers & Books and one of the Best Business Books of 2012 by the Wall Street Journal

Read the review of The Color Revolution in The New York Times here. Listen to the 'Selling Colour' podcast on BBC Radio 4 here. Enjoy the 'Conversation about Colour' with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation here.

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American Consumer Society, 1865-2005: From Hearth to HDTV (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2009).

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Rohm and Haas: A Century of Innovation (Bainbridge Island, WA: Fenwick; Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009).

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Producing Fashion: Commerce, Culture, and Consumers (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008). Producing Fashion received the 'Best of the Best Prize' from the Association of American University Presses, 2008.

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Major Problems in American Business History: Essays and Documents (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006). 

history publications

Partners in Innovation: Science Education and the Science Workforce (Philadelphia: Chemical Heritage Foundation, 2005). 

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Imagining Consumers: Design and Innovation from Wedgwood to Corning (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000). Imagining Consumers received the Hagley Prize for the Best Book in Business History for 2001, awarded by the Business History Conference, the largest international organization of business historians. It was also named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title and was a finalist for the Design History Society Scholarship Award in the UK, both in 2001.

Research Projects

Professor Blaszczyk is particularly keen on doing history for the general public, collaborating with museums and industry, and working to advance teaching methods.

Funded Projects:

* Principal Investigator for a four-year research project, 'Future Perfect: Ernest Dichter and Consumer Society in Europe and North America', funded by a Career Integration Grant from the Marie Curie People Programme of the European Commission, 2014-2018.  The project will lead to the first cultural biography of Ernest Dichter, the father of motivational research and a significant player in transatlantic consumer culture of the post World War II era and to a co-edited book on the history of trend forecasting. 

* Project Leader and Principal Investigator on a three-year collaborative research project, 'The Enterprise of Culture: International Structures and Connections in the Fashion Industry Since 1945', with eight partners in the UK and the EU. Funded by HERA II (Humanities in the European Research Area, European Commission), 2013-2016. Visit the project website here.

* Principal Investigator for the 'Moon Heritage Project', a collaborative effort with Abraham Moon & Sons, Ltd., a vertically integrated woollen mill in Leeds, to document the company's history, 2014-2016. 

* Principal Investigator for a two-year research project, 'Rethinking Textiles', funded by the Marie Curie People Programme of the European Commission that hosted a visiting fellow at the University of Leeds, 2014-2016.

* Collaborator with Professor David Raizman of Drexel University USA on 'The Canon and Beyond: Teaching the History of Modern Design', a summer institute for college and university teachers funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities USA for 2015.

* Co-Investigator for an exploratory grant with the Research Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to explore themes on 'The Future Is Our Business: A Visual History of Future Expertise'. This work was funded by the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council), 2013. 

Exhibition Catalogues:

Professor Blaszczyk has contributed essays to major exhibition catalogues in the USA. 

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For the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas-Austin, she wrote an essay on industrial design and consumer culture for Donald Albrecht, ed., Norman Bel Geddes Designs America (New York: Abrams, 2012). 

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She was also invited by curators at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City to contribute an essay on invention and innovation to Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs, 1851-1939 (New York: Skira Rizzoli, 2012). Inventing the Modern World received the Henry Russel Hitchcock Award from the Victorian Society in America in 2013.