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Isabelle Held

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  • Isabelle Marina Held is a Techne AHRC History of Design doctoral researcher at the RCA. Her research project is titled ‘Designing the Bombshell: Military-Industrial Materials and the Shaping of Women’s Bodies in the United States, 1939–1976'.

    The Smithsonian Institution, Hagley Museum and Library, and Science History Institute have supported Isabelle's PhD research with fellowships. She has lectured in History of Design at the RCA, as well as Cultural and Historical Studies at University of the Arts London and University of the Creative Arts. Her writing is featured in publications including Baron, The Towner, Under the Influence and Baroness.

  • Previous degrees

  • BA (Hons) Fashion Promotion and Imaging, University for the Creative Arts, 2010; MA History of Design, Royal College of Art, 2012
  • Experiences

  • Head of translation and London contributor, Booklet Magazine, Cologne, Germany. 2006–10; Head of English translation and UK content editor, GoSee Creative News Services, Cologne, Germany 2006–15; Contributor to: Baron, Baroness, Under the Influence, The Towner, London, UK, 2014 – 2017; Contemporary Department curatorial work placement, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2008–9; Sessional lecturer and dissertation supervisor, University for the Creative Arts, Epsom, UK, 2012 – 2017; Associate lecturer and dissertation supervisor, University of the Arts, London, UK, 2013 – 2017; Visiting lecturer, Royal College of Art, London, UK 2019-2020
  • Conferences

  • ‘Bullet Bras and Bombshells: The rise and fall of conical bra design in America 1927–1964’, Covering & Exposing: Manipulation and Fragmentation of the Body Conference, UCA Epsom, 23 June 2012; ‘Breaking Codes: Wartime cryptology, early computing and gender roles at Bletchley Park, UK’, Memory and Perception TECHNE AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership Annual Conference 2016, 3 November 2016; ‘Fleshing Out Foam: Polyurethane foam’s expansion into the female body’, INTIMATERIAL, Royal College of Art, 15 June 2017; Atomic Bombshells and Silicone Shots: Women’s bodies, the military-industrial complex and plastics in the US, 1939-1969, Conflicted Bodies Feminist and Queer Responses to Militarism and Violence, Goldsmiths, University of London, 30 September 2017; ‘Outwards, Upwards and Inwards: Plastic Foam’s Expansion from Military-Industrial Material to Female Flesh in the Postwar US, 1939 – 1976’, Plastics Heritage Congress: History, Limits and Possibilities, Lisbon, Portugal. 29 - 31 May 2019; ‘Fluid Othering: Troubling American Myths of Silicone Shots in Postwar Japan’, Fashioning Inclusivity 2019 Symposium: History, Limits and Possibilities, London College of Fashion, London, UK, 13 June 2019; ‘Postwar Plastics and the Shaping of Women’s Bodies’ (invited talk), Materials, Sex, Heritage: a Critical Heritage Symposium, Critical Heritage Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, 16 September 2019
  • Publications

  • Reviewed work: Design History Beyond the Canon ed. by Jennifer Kaufmann-Buhler, Victoria Rose Pass, Christopher S. Wilson, London & New York: Bloomsbury, 2019 (invited review), Design Issues, Vol. 36, No. 2, (Spring 2020), pp. 97-99
  • Awards

  • Royal College of Art/Bard Graduate Center Student Exchange Programme, 2011; AHRC International Placement Scheme, Smithsonian Institution Fellow at the National Museum of American History, 2017-2018; Hagley Henry Belin du Pont Research Fellow, 2018; Science History Institute Doan Fellow, 2018; Hagley Henry Belin du Pont Dissertation Fellow, 2019; Techne UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Doctoral Training Partnership PhD Scholarship, 2016 - 2020
  • Funding

  • TECHNE AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership PhD Scholarship; AHRC International Placement Scheme Smithsonian National Museum of American History Fellowship; Hagley Museum and Library Henry Belin du Pont Fellowship; Science History Institute Doan Fellowship
  • Sponsors

  • Techne UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC); Smithsonian Institution; Smithsonian National Museum of American History; Science History Institute; Hagley Museum and Library
Royal College of Art