Stitching Freedom: Embroidery and Incarceration


Today’s book is: Stitching Freedom: Embroidery and Incarceration (Common Threads Press, 2024), by Dr. Isabella Rosner, which considers how for centuries, people have stitched in good times and in bad, finding strength in the needle moving in and out of fabric. Stitching Freedom explores the embroidery made in prisons and mental health hospitals — those who have embroidered to distract, to reflect or to calm. From Mary, Queen of Scots to Lorina Bulwer to “Unfortunate Annie” Parker, embroidery historian and curator Isabella Rosner unpicks embroidered histories to discover what can be created when freedom is out of reach.

Our guest is: Dr. Isabella Rosner, who is curator of the Royal School of Needlework and a research consultant at Witney Antiques. She hosts the “Sew What?” podcast about historic needlework and those who stitched it. She is a 2023 BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker, and the author of the History Today article “With Her Own Hair: A Victorian Prisoner’s Art,” and the new book Stitching Freedom: Embroidery and Incarceration.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, who is the creator and show host of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in history, which she uses to explore what stories we tell and what happens to those we never tell.

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Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler is the creator, show host, and producer of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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