Patricia Thomas

Patricia Thomas

Honorary Research Associate, Ngā Pae Māhutonga - The School of Design

Dr Patricia Thomas’ over-arching research area is the history of print within cultural, economic and social contexts. This comprises the examination of images and typography as they manifest in books and ephemeral material. The enquiry often spills over into the analysis of historical advertising. Her research is invariably concerned with material related to, though not inevitably produced in, New Zealand. Some of this explores the roles played by women in print and how print has affected them historically. Methodologically, her approach to the material is production-led. It asks what producers did and what they were aiming to accomplish by doing it. Theories of communication, rhetoric and cognition feature in the exploration of her enquiries into historical events and practices.

  • Expertise

    Present role: Honorary Research Associate

    Present teaching: Post-graduate supervision

    View Patricia Thomas' expertise directory profile.

  • Research Highlights



     (forthcoming) ‘Choice Type’ and ‘Elegant Founts’: Advertising in Elizabeth Heard’s Truro Printing Office. In Rose Roberto with Artemis Alexiou, Women in Print, vol. 1. Oxford: Peter Lang Publishing.


    Colonising Te Whanganui ā Tara and Marketing Wellington 1840-1849: Displaying (Dis)Possession. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.


    'Iconoclastic effrontery': Rex Fairburn, Bob Lowry and the Printing of Polemics’, Script and Print: Journal of the Australia and New Zealand Bibliographic Society, 41.1, pp. 5-20.

    “The other side of history: Underground Literature and the 1951 Waterfront Dispute’, Back Story: Journal of New Zealand Art, Media and Design History, 3, pp. 27-44.


    ‘Emigration and imperial business: The New Zealand Company brand 1839-1841’, The Journal of Historical Marketing 8.2, 284-307.


    ‘When is a book not a book: Exploring the possibilities of the material book in the digital world’. Impact 8: Borders and Crossings: The artist as explorer. Proceedings of the 2013 International Printmaking Conference, Dundee: Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, pp. 74-79.


    “by far the best parts”: The jackets of Paul's Book Arcade as agents of cultural myth’, Turnbull Library Record, 42, pp. 40-56.

    “The habits and institutions of Englishmen”: Using the pamphlet and small book collections of two New Zealand research libraries’, Library and Information History Journal, 26(3), pp. 196-212.


    ‘Modern letters, modern lives: Networks of association for a new world’. Networks of Design: Proceedings of the 2008 Annual International Conference of the Design History Society (UK). Boca Raton: Universal Publishers, pp. 359-264.

    ‘Women's pages: Publishing, writing and [in]visibility in Aotearoa’, Women's History Network Magazine, 58, pp. 27-33.


    ‘Bob Lowry: Printer to the University?’ Journal of the Printing Historical Society, new series, 11, pp. 5-22.


    Conference papers


    ‘Preserved ephemera: Into a large scrapbook, carefully paste selected material… .’ Dregs, dross and debris: The art of transient print. Print Networks in conjunction with Liverpool John Moores University and the Centre for Printing History and Culture, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, 9-10 July.


    ‘“A style of typographical beauty rarely attained”: Elizabeth Heard, printer at Truro’. Women in print: Production, distribution, consumption. Winterbourne House and Garden, Birmingham University, Birmingham, 13-14 September.


    Lockout: Insubordinate print and the New Zealand 1951 waterfront dispute’. Printers Unite! Print and Protest from the Early Modern to the Present. Centre for the History of Print and Culture, London, 3-4 November 2016.

    “At the moment of our Empire’s need”: Women, print culture and New Zealand Patriotic Societies 1914-1918.. 25th Annual World History Conference, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium, 2-5 July 2016.


    ‘Help to win the war: an analysis of the typographic posters of the New Zealand Government 1914-1918’, War and Peace: Design History Society Conference, 4-6 September Oxford University, Oxford.


    ‘Teaching book futures’, Impact 8: Borders and Crossings: The artist as explorer. International Printmaking Conference, 28 August – 1 September, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee, Dundee.


    ‘The Englishman’s second home’: New Zealand in nineteenth century emigration rhetoric’, Locating the hidden diaspora: The English in the Anglo-phone world, 8-10 July, Northumbria University, Newcastle.

    ‘Consuming country: Advertising and emigration in nineteenth century Britain’, Re-thinking Advertising: Histories, Praxis and Interpretations, 22-23 April 2010, the Inaugural Conference of the Cultural History of Economic Reseach Hub through the Department of Historical Studies at Melbourne University, Melbourne, Australia.


    Modern letters, modern lives: Networks of association for a new world’. Networks of Design: Design History Society Conference, 3-6 September, Falmouth University College, Falmouth.


    ‘Propaganda and print: The role of ephemera in the politics of emigration 1840-1850’, Jobbing printing: The stuff of life. Conference of the Printing Historical Society in conjunction with the Ephemera Society Conference, 4-5 July 2006, Department of Typography and Graphic Communication, Reading, University, Reading.

    ‘Prophylaxis and the printed word: The role of the material word in Ettie Rout’s sex education campaign’, Thinking Women: Education, culture and society. Women’s History Network Annual Conference, 1-3 September, Durham University, Durham.


    ‘Alphabet soup in shaky bowls: Lettering in Wellington city’, Locating design, Design History Society Conference/Sites and Histories Research Group, 7-9 September 2005, London Metropolitan University of London, London.

  • Qualifications

    GDArtH (Victoria University)
    MDes (Massey University)
    PhD (Massey University)

  • Supervision

    Katherine Hardy Bernal
    The Lolita Subculture: A Worldwide Phenomenon


    Primary supervisor: Prof. Vicki Karaminas
    Co-supervisor: Dr. Patricia Thomas