Interim Dean Susan Kaiser

A Message from Dean Kaiser

It is an honor to serve the faculty, staff and students in Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies (HArCS). Scholarship and teaching in HArCS are superb, reflecting a strong tradition of interdisciplinary research and program building.

Our goal is to foster critical and creative thinking, making, questioning, and problem-solving skills. These are especially crucial in a rapidly changing world, which demands deeper understanding of human differences and connections.

Students who choose a HArCS major in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science, learn from award-winning faculty and acquire hands-on experience in our many research programs and internship opportunities, inside and outside the classroom. These real-world experiences, coupled with an education from our top-ranked departments, help students develop the critical and creative thinking skills for an innovative and promising future. We believe these skills are some of the many reasons that UC Davis ranks third in the nation for starting and mid-career alumni salaries in the humanities (Payscale College Salary Report, 2014).

Interim Dean Susan Kaiser

Susan B. Kaiser has served as interim dean of the Division of the Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies since the summer of 2014. She came to UC Davis in 1980 and over the years her interdisciplinary approach to scholarship has enabled her to foster collaborations and build bridges across the campus. 

She has been a faculty member of the Division of Textiles and Clothing since her arrival and of the Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies Program for two decades, and is also affiliated with the Department of Sociology. She spearheaded the establishment of the Science and Society Program and co-founded the Cultural Studies Graduate Group.

Kaiser earned a Bachelor of Science degree in textiles and clothing at the University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. in textiles and clothing, with a minor in sociology, at Texas Woman’s University. Before coming to UC Davis, she was an assistant professor at California State University, Los Angeles. 

Kaiser is a fellow and past president of the International Textile and Apparel Association and serves on the editorial board of Fashion Theory. She has also been a co-editor of Critical Studies in Fashion and Beauty, and is an associate editor of Fashion, Style and Popular Culture. She has been honored as an outstanding mentor by the UC Davis Women and Research Consortium and was named an outstanding alumna by the University of Texas. She served as director of the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program in 2008-2009 and 2013-2014, was an associate dean in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (home of Textiles and Clothing) from 1991 to 1996, and was the Division of Textiles and Clothing chair from 2000 to 2006. 

From 2003 to 2007 Kaiser was a UC Presidential Co-Chair for Undergraduate Education, developing curricula related to the Transnational Production and Consumption of Fashion that brought together students from an array of majors to focus on linkages among social justice, the environment and material culture. Kaiser has cited among her proudest achievements her participation with team leader Judith Newton, Kent Ono and others in developing the Cultural Studies Graduate Group. She also served as principal investigator for Re-fashioning the Humanities, a grant to coordinate a UC system-wide fashion studies working group.

She is the author of The Social Psychology of Clothing: Symbolic Appearances in Context, originally published in 1985 and republished in 1990 and 1997, and translated into Japanese, Chinese and Korean; and 2012’s Fashion and Cultural Studies. She has written or co-written approximately 100 articles and book chapters in the fields of textile and fashion studies, gender studies, consumer studies, cultural studies and sociology, and has been a keynote or invited presenter at conferences internationally — including the Fashion and Fiction Conference, Drexel University, Philadelphia; Fashioning Diasporas Conference, Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Clothing and Culture conference with the International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, Kunming, China; and Uniformity Conference, Berlin.

Her current research focuses on themes of place and space, with particular interest in neglected sites of fashion interest such as small cities and towns and rural areas and their interplay with intersecting identities regarding gender, sexuality, ethnicity, age, social class, and national identity.

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