Faculty Research Lightning Talks: Meet Carla Cesare  

The UCBA Library’s 3rd Annual Faculty Research Lightning Talks on March 10, 2020 featured four presenters and their discipline-based research projects via short, 15 minute presentations. In our Meet the Presenters series, each presenter shares some insights into their research project.

Carla Cesare | Assistant Professor of Art History | Art & Visual Communication Department

Presentation: Networks of Design: Women at Work

Professor Carla Cesare giving a presentation

Carla Cesare discusses her research.

Research Project
Networks of Design is a research project/book proposal that looks at a body of women who were working in the emerging design disciplines in America in the 1920s-30s. It does so through the contemporary lens of design thinking which includes research, making and marketing; uncovering the breadth of work women were doing and the network they were creating, unconsciously or not. By uncovering ‘anonymous’, women are brought to the foreground of design history, not just through biographies or even the objects designed, but by linking their educational and career trajectories and reconsidering the role women have played in making our daily lives through design.

Cesare Slide showing different advertisements

A slide from Cesare’s Networks of Design: Women at Work presentation 

Are there any opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration with your research? If already cross-disciplinary, are there opportunities to expand it?
There are two areas: Women’s history and the inclusion women of the design discipline; second, I think it could be a stepping off point for people looking at the history of retail and media as the evolution of organizational structures is pretty interesting.

What are your next steps with your research?
I’m currently revising a book proposal; a publisher contacted me and they think it’s viable and a fit. So hopefully a book is next.

Additional Resources
To date I’ve primarily used archives and libraries including:  UC’s Special Collections, Purdue University, Smith College, New York Public Library, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, Henry Ford Museum, Cranbrook Academy of Art, University of Chicago and the Mattatuck Historical Society.


by Lauren Wahman