Hannah Carlson in conversation with Elissa Yancey discussing Pockets

Monday, November 13, 2023 - 7:00pm
2692 Madison Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45208

Hannah Carlson in conversation with Elissa Yancey discussing Pockets: An Intimate History of How We Keep Things Close

In collaboration with The University of Cincinnati Office of Research & the UC Society and Culture Initiative

Monday, November 13 at 7pm ET

Location: Joseph-Beth Cincinnati 

Join us for Hannah Carlson in conversation with Elissa Yancey discussing Pockets: An Intimate History of How We Keep Things Close. Optional RSVP is below, but not required to attend the event.

A thought-provoking microhistory of the humble pocket that uncovers what pockets reveal about us—and why it matters.

It’s a subject that stirs up plenty of passion: Why do men’s clothes have so many pockets and women’s so few? In her captivating book, Hannah Carlson, a lecturer in dress history at the Rhode Island School of Design, shows us how we tuck gender politics, security, sexuality, and privilege inside our pockets.

Throughout the medieval era in Europe, the purse was an almost universal dress feature carried by men and women alike. But when tailors stitched the first pockets into men’s trousers 500 years ago, it ignited controversy and introduced a range of social issues that we continue to wrestle with today, from concealed pistols to gender inequality, as noted in hashtags like #GiveMePocketsOrGiveMeDeath.

This abundantly illustrated four-color book explores much more than who has pockets and why. How is it that putting your hands in your pocket can be seen as a sign of laziness, arrogance, confidence, or perversion? Walt Whitman’s author photograph, hand in pocket, for Leaves of Grass, seemed like an affront to middle class respectability. When W.E.B. DuBois posed for a portrait, his pocketed hands signaled defiant coolness.

Readers of The Golden Thread by Kassia St. Clair and The Fabric of Civilization by Virginia Postrel will be enthralled. And Pockets is a perfect gift for the legions of people obsessed with pockets and their absence, and for anyone interested in how our clothes influence the way we navigate the world.


Hannah Carlson teaches dress history and material culture at the Rhode Island School of Design. After training as a conservator of costume and textiles at the Fashion Institute of Technology, she received a PhD in material culture from Boston University. She has contributed articles to Common Place: The Journal of Early American Life, Dress: The Journal of the Costume Society of America, and Macguffin: The Life of Things.


Elissa Yancey, MS Ed, is a lifelong storyteller with a background as a successful journalist, community builder and educator. Elissa is the Executive & Creative Director of A Picture’s Worth, a story-focused nonprofit that works to deepen understanding beyond headlines and stereotypes.


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