Going entirely online due to coronavirus stay-at-home orders enacted by the state of Pennsylvania didn’t stop fashion and communications co-major Abigail Ensslen ’21 from presenting independent research on “Berets, Books and Browsing: A Guide to the Beat Generation, Beatniks, and Wix,” at the 2020 HECBC conference in April.
The work combined Ensslen’s interest in fashion with communication field skills – two areas that she plans to combine in her career after college, as a member of a fashion company’s communication team.
“Conducting research in college is valuable because it helps us with problem solving and finding information when we hit the real world,” said Ensslen. “Whether learning about a topic or solving a problem, doing research is the most important part of that process.”
The Beat Generation was a social movement of the 1940s to the 1960s in the U.S and Europe consisting of specific fashions, literature, values, and attitudes that opposed mainstream culture, explains Ensslen.
“While popular culture mainly associates the Beats with wearing black turtlenecks and sporting goatees, there is a whole precursor to the movement that consists of a wide range of dress that includes shabby looks as well as business casual and semi-formal looks such as suits.”
Though it was the first piece of in-depth research Ensslen completed independently, she worked with fashion faculty member Sara Nelson to fine-tune the presentation website ahead of the HECBC conference.
“My research into the evolution of the Beat style was organized and presented in a digital format using the Wix platform to create an intriguing and user-friendly website experience.”
Several different forms of media were use to illustrate Beat Generation counterculture and subdivisions on the site.
“It was definitely nice to have somebody else look at my work and tell me what makes sense and what could be changed,” she said.
As part of the undergraduate experience at Albright College, students are afforded a number of opportunities to conduct research, independently, or in partnership with faculty mentors. Often, their work is presented to professionals and scholars at gatherings of organizations like the American Chemical Society, the Eastern Psychological Association and the Higher Education Council of Berks County (HECBC).
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