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Karl Aspelund

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  • Assistant Professor
  • Quinn Hall, Rm 221
  • Phone: 401.874.4176
  • Email: aspelund@uri.edu

Biography

Karl completed a Ph.D. in Anthropology and Material Culture in 2011 from Boston University. His dissertation, examining the state and nature of national dress in Iceland, was awarded the University Professors Edmonds Prize as the best dissertation of the academic year 2010-2011.  After graduating from the Wimbledon School of Art in London in 1986 with a degree in 3d design for theater, Karl worked as an artist and designer for 20 years, in theater, films, and public art, with numerous commissions for sets and costumes, couture, exhibitions, graphic design, murals, lighting, installations, art direction, and production design. Karl has taught art, design theory, apparel design, and CAD since 1991. In 1994, he was commissioned to create, and head for its initial year, a Department of Industrial Design at The Reykjavik Technical College in Iceland, where he taught a number of design related courses from ’91-’96. Moving to Rhode Island in 1996, he began teaching at URI and has been here since, as adjunct, lecturer, and assistant professor. In May of 2014 Karl became visiting assistant professor at the Department of Folkloristics/ Ethnology and Museum Studies, School of Social Sciences, University of Iceland. That same month Karl was a speaker at TEDX Reykjavik, presenting thoughts on “What to wear on a starship in 2112 and why it matters.”

Research

Karl’s research interests are directed toward the role apparel and design plays in the creation of personal, ethnic and national identity. Environmental concerns, especially in how the design community needs to contribute to environmental sustainability are also an increasing area of interest and focus. Since 2010, Karl has also been involved in a cross-disciplinary research project with scholars at the University of Iceland on nationalistic culture-creation in 19th century Iceland. He is now turning toward investigating the design and cultural needs and constraints of clothing in very-long-term space exploration and was awarded a grant from URI’s Council for Research toward this purpose in June of 2013. Karl is a member of the 100 Year Starship Research Team that is aiming to enable human spaceflight beyond our solar system within a century. (See more about this in a recent SO Rhode Island magazine article)

Education

  • Ph.D., Anthropology and Material Culture, Boston University, University Professors Program, 2011
  • B.A., 3d Design (Theatre), Wimbledon School of Art (University of London, UK.), 1986

Publications

K. Aspelund. Designing: An Introduction, New York: Bloomsbury, 2014

K. Aspelund. “The Shifting Meaning of National Dress.” In Icelandic Cultural Heritage. Ó. Rastrick and V. Hafstein, eds. Reykjavík: University of Iceland Press, 2014

K. Aspelund. The Design Process (3rd ed.), New York:  Fairchild Publications, 2014

Valdimarsson. E., K. Aspelund. “Svipir Kvoldfelagsins” Rannsoknir i felagsvisindum XIII. Felags- og mannvisindadeild. Erindi flutt a radstefnu i oktober 2012. [“Shades of the Evening Society” Proceedings of the Univ. of Iceland’s Conference on Research in Social Sciences XIII.] S. Eggertsson,A. G. Asgeirsdottir, eds. Reykjavik, University of Iceland Press, 2012

K. Aspelund. “Thekki eg nu born min aftur… Menningarskopun hastetta med kvenklaednadi og motun islenskrar thjodarimyndar a 19. old.“ Rannsoknir i­ felagsvisindum XII. Felags- og mannvisindadeild. Erindi flutt a radstefnu i­ oktober 2011. [“‘My children, now familiar to me again…'” Upper-Class Cultural Inventiveness with Women’s Apparel and the forming of National Identity in the 19th Century.” Proceedings of the Univ. of Iceland’s Conference on Research in Social Sciences XII. ] A. G. Asgeirsdottir, H. Bjornsdottir, H. Olafsdottir, eds. Reykjavik. University of Iceland Press, 2011

K. Aspelund. Fashioning Society, New York:  Fairchild Publications, 2009

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