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Allison Thornton

Allison Thornton
Business Honors
Graduation Year:
May 2018
"If there's a topic that you're able to get lost in like that, a research project seems to be the logical next step."

Faculty supervisor: Heather Pelletier, Marc Bizer
Name of project: French Departmental Honors Thesis

Please give a brief, simplified overview of your research project.
My thesis explores the impact of Louis XIV on the modern fashion industry. Many of the institutions essential to today’s industry, such as the seasonal nature of trends, were put into place during his reign in the 17th century.

Describe the tasks you engage in as part of your work.
I conduct research utilizing texts from various UT libraries and online resources. During my junior year, I studied abroad at HEC, a business school in France located close to Versailles (where Louis XIV’s castle grounds are found) and got to learn more about the history and culture of his court over the course of the semester. I write fairly regularly in small bursts and meet every other Friday with my advisors.

Describe what you thought college might be like before you came to UT. Did you consider research when thinking about college?
Before coming to college, I frequently imagined what sitting in college lectures would be like. I was excited to learn about new interesting topics that didn’t fall squarely into the predetermined subjects of history, science or math. I enjoyed research projects in high school, but I never really took research opportunities into consideration during the college application process.

How did you get involved with your research project?
I actually wrote a (much shorter) paper on this subject for one of my French culture classes my sophomore year, FR 340P. We were asked to write on an aspect of French culture that interested us, and for me that institution was French haute couture. As I began my research, I found many sources that pointed back to its origins with Louis XIV. My professor, Mme. Pelletier, suggested that I consider expanding upon the topic as part of an honors thesis.

Do you see your project connecting with your plans for your future?
I am quite passionate about French language and culture and intend to work in the fashion industry in the future; my knowledge of the history and origins of the fashion capital of the world will likely prove useful in my future endeavors. Additionally, if I ever return to graduate school, being published will likely bolster my application.

What is the most interesting or surprising thing you’ve gotten to do for this project?
The opportunity to study abroad in the region my research covers, albeit not specifically for this project, was absolutely incredible. Having interned in fashion before and having now attended New York Fashion Week, I truly feel that the history I’ve been researching is coming full circle, that without many of these major institutions put into place by the Sun King, the way we perceive and consume fashion may have turned out quite differently.

What advice would you give to a student who was thinking about research?
Just remain curious and passionate. When I came to UT I hadn’t thought too much about research or even working with a professor on their research. However, when you are truly passionate about a topic, the work does itself. There have been so many evenings where I just get lost in my research going down a million rabbit holes only to realize that several hours have passed. If there’s a topic that you’re able to get lost in like that, a research project seems to be the logical next step.