Skip navigation

Dr Elizabeth Kramer

Senior Lecturer in Design History

Department: Arts

Dr Kramer is a design historian interested in Anglo-Japanese artistic and cultural exchange, especially in relation to textiles and fashion.

ADSS Elizabethkramer Facultystaff 255

Before joining Northumbria University in 2009 as Senior Lecturer in Design History, Elizabeth Kramer held a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in Historical Studies at Newcastle University (2007-9), during which time she conducted research on the material culture of manias.  This expanded upon her research on the Japan mania in Victorian Britain (1875-1900) conducted during a previous postdoctoral fellowship in Material Culture-Textiles for the AHRC Research Centre for Textile Conservation and Textile Studies (2005-7).  Her interest in what we can learn about the participants in, and critics of, manias as informed by the material culture associated with them as well as her interest in Anglo-Japanese artistic exchange stemming from the topic of her PhD, "Art, Industry and Design: Japanese and Anglo-Japanese Textile Culture in Victorian Britain, 1862-1900", completed at The University of Manchester in 2004.

Dr Kramer is a longstanding member of the Design History Society.  She is a member of the Editorial Board for Visual Culture in Britain published by Routledge.  She is also a member of the AHRC Peer Review College. 

At Northumbria Univesity, Dr Kramer is also a member of the Northumbria UniversityVisual and Material Culture research group.

0191 2273478


PhD, Art History, The University of Manchester (2004)

MA, Art History, University of Missouri-Columbia (USA) (1999)

BA, Magna Cum Laude, Studio Art, University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire (USA) (1996)


Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Dr Kramer is currently investigating how the fashionable kimono can be used to understand cultural flows and transnational identities.  A recent AHRC Network Grant (2014-15) enabled her and Dr Sarah Cheang (Royal College of Art) to host a series of workshops and collection visits in the UK and Japan for academics, students, museum professionals and fashion industry professionals on the topic of Fashion and Translation: Britain, Japan, China and Korea, which investigated the ways in which fashion transcends national boundaries and yet can be used to enforce national stereotypes.  Select papers will be published from these events in a special issue of International Journal of Fashion Studies on ‘Fashion and East Asia’, co-edited by Cheang and Kramer (2017).   They co-ran a session and presented papers at the 2016 ICDHS conference Making Trans/National Contemporary Design History on "East Asia, Modernity and Transnational Fashion: Movements in Time and Space" in Taipei, Taiwan.  Dr Kramer was awarded a DHS Day Symposium Award to host Transnational Textiles: New Directions at Northumbria University (2015). 

Dr Kramer is also interested in Anglo-Japanese artistic and cultural interaction. This includes a special interest in British consumption of Japanese decorative arts for the Victorian home as well as the inspiration of Japanese design on British design during the Japan mania. She has been invited to speak on her expertise on the Victorian middle class consumption of Japanese textiles at a variety of events nationally and internationally, including at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and the Victoria and Albert Museum (2011) as well as at the Japan Women’s University, Tokyo (2012) and International Association for Philosophy and Literature annual conference in Melbourne, Australia (2008).

She is further interested in the material culture of manias and enthusiasms held post-manias (Railway mania, Japan mania, Egyptomania, Beatlesmania, Wrestlemania, Obama mania, etc). She is interested in what we can learn about manias, their critics and participants, and the social, cultural and political issues informing them through the material culture so closely associated with them. She hopes to further develop her research relating to manias by considering how individuals, manufacturers, and the cultural industry endeavour to perpetuate enthusiasm after the widespread fervour for a mania has diminished.

Dr Kramer lectures on a wide variety of topics related to critical issues surrounding contemporary design, the history of design and the application of theory to design for students of fashion design, interior design, 3D design and design for industry.  At graduate level, her teaching is further informed by her research interests in material culture, the history and theory of consumption and everyday life as well as gender, postcolonial theories and transnationalism



Current/Recent Projects

Co-Investigator, AHRC funded Network: Fashion and Translation: Britain, Japan, China, Korea (2014-15)


Key Publications


Sarah Cheang and Elizabeth Kramer, ‘Fashion and Translation: East Asian Perspectives’, special issue on ‘East Asia and Fashion’, International Journal of Fashion Studies, co-edited Sarah Cheang and Elizabeth Kramer , 4.2 (Sept/Oct 2017).


"Charles Robert Ashbee", "Aubrey Beardsley", "Lewis Foreman Day", "Christopher Dresser", "Ernest Gimson", "Ambrose Heal", "Margaret Macdonald", "Charles Rennie Mackintosh", "Augustus Pugin" and "Charles Voysey", Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design, ed. Clive Edwards (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015).

“Japonisme and British Women’s Art Embroidery for the Victorian Interior, 1870-1900”, [Proceedings for the] International Symposium Japonisme in Design –Its Formation of the Idea and Execution in the Occident, ed. Akiko Mabuchi (Tokyo, 2014): 15-28.

“‘Not so Japan-Easy’: The British Reception of Japanese Dress in the Late Nineteenth Century,” Textile History 44, 1 (May 2013): 3-24.  Winner of the Pasold Prize for best published article in Textile History in 2013.

“Batmobama and ObaMarx: The Meanings of the Material and Visual Culture of Obama Mania,” Journal of Design History (16 December 2012 doi: 10.1093/jdh/eps054).  Forthcoming in print in 2014.

“Japanese inspiration and the ‘art’ of Victorian art needlework.” Textile special issue: East meets West, ed. Lynn Hulse (2009-10): 19-27.

“Re-evaluating the Japan Mania in Victorian Britain: The Agency of Japanese and Anglo-Japanese Wares”, in Networks of Design, proceedings of the 2008 Design History Society conference, ed. Fiona Hackney, Jonathan Glynne and Viv Minton (Universal Publishers, 2009). Available at:

“From Specimen to Scrap: Japanese kimono and textiles in the British Victorian Interior, 1875-1900,” Material Cultures in Britain, 1740-1920, ed. John Potvin and Alla Myzelev (Ashgate, 2009), 129-148.

Maria Hayward and Elizabeth Kramer, ed., Textiles and Text: Re-establishing the Links between Archival and Object-based Research (London: Archetype, 2007)

“Introduction” and “A paradise of pretty girls: the kimono and perceptions of Japan,” Textiles and Text, ed. Maria Hayward and Elizabeth Kramer. London: Archetype, 2007.

“From Luxury to Mania: A Case Study of Anglo-Japanese Textile Production at Warner & Ramm, 1870-1890,” Textile History 38, 2 (November 2007): 151-164.

“Master or Market? The Anglo-Japanese Textile Designs of Christopher Dresser in Context,” The Journal of Design History 19, 3 (September 2006): 197-214.


To view my Northumbria Research Link page click here


Northumbria Open Days

Open Days are a great way for you to get a feel of the University, the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the course(s) you are interested in.

Research at Northumbria

Research at Northumbria

Research is the life blood of a University and at Northumbria University we pride ourselves on research that makes a difference; research that has application and affects people's lives.


Order your prospectus

If you would like to know more about our courses, or life in general as a student at Northumbria, then we can help you.

Latest News and Features

More news

Back to top