Slavery Captivity and the Meaning of Freedom RFG

Slavery Captivity and the Meaning of Freedom RFG

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Research Focus Group Talk: One and Indivisible? Slavery, Federalism and Secessionism in the French-Haitian Revolution

2252 HSSB HSSB, UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

“The Republic is one and indivisible”: this principle was the founding dogma of the regime that emerged during the French Revolution. The Republic, however, still “owned” colonies and the plantation societies in the French West Indies could not be more at odds with the principle of universal equality. Was the regeneration effected by the Revolution compatible with the maintenance of a colonial empire? This paper will explore the heated colonial debates on French federalism, secessionism, ...

RFG Talk: The Double Consciousness of Henry Box Brown in Four Acts

2635 South Hall South Hall, UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

If Henry Box Brown is known to contemporary audiences, then it is as the slave who achieved freedom by mailing himself in a box from Virginia to Philadelphia in 1849. While critics have explored this incredible event, less attention has been focused on Brown’s subsequent life as the performer of a moving diorama in England, a mesmerist, and a prestidigitator. Taking up his fascinating boxing experience, but also shedding more light on his later “acts,” ...

Research Focus Group Talk: Origin Story: The Narrative of James Williams and the Formation of the African American Slave Narrative

4080 HSSB UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

This talk provides a material history of the American Anti-Slavery Society’s first sponsored slave narrative, The Narrative of James Williams (1838), and illuminates how its publication and the controversy that surrounded it shaped the development of the genre as a whole. Teresa Goddu is Associate Professor of English & American Studies at Vanderbilt University. She is the author of Gothic America: Narrative, History, and Nation (1997) and the forthcoming book, Selling Antislavery: U.S. Abolition and the ...

Research Focus Group Talk: Dred Scott & the Retroactive Invention of Citizenship

4080 HSSB UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

How did Americans understand citizenship before it was defined in the 14th Amendment? If U.S. citizenship was only defined after abolition and emancipation, how did slavery shape American citizenship? Come and talk about these and related issues of race and civic belonging as Professor Carrie Hyde (UCLA) joins us for a brown bag discussion of the (pre-circulated) first chapter of her recent book, Civic Longing: The Speculative Origins of U.S. Citizenship (Harvard, 2018). Professor Hyde’s teaching and ...

Research Focus Group Workshop: Personhood: Do We Make It or Know It?

4080 HSSB UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

This workshop will discuss the precirculated first chapter from Jeannine DeLombard’s current book manuscript, “Bound to Respect: Democratic Dignity and the Indignities of Slavery.” (Please click the "Download Reading" button above.) For many of us today, the artifice of legal personhood – the corporate person in particular – provokes outrage. Focusing on the legal fiction of slave personhood, this paper argues that in the 19th-century U.S., the greater danger came from naturalizing this artifice by attaching it to ...

Workshop: The Unfree Trade of an Abolitionist Colony

6056 HSSB UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

Manuel Covo will discuss a chapter from his current book manuscript. The chapter, entitled “The Unfree Trade of an Abolitionist Colony,” explores the economic challenges facing Saint-Domingue in the aftermath of abolition and argues that the war context and the food dependency had long-lasting consequences for the new Haitian society. The text will be pre-circulated; for a copy, email Sponsored by the IHC’s Slavery, Captivity, and the Meaning of Freedom Research Focus Group

Research Focus Group Workshop: Embodied Ownership: Sheppard Lee and Proprietary Whiteness in Jacksonian America


REGISTER NOW This workshop will discuss a PRECIRCULATED chapter from Merav Schocken’s dissertation, “Functional Fictions: Practices of Self-Deception in 19th-Century America.” (Please click on the “Download Reading” button above to access the precirculated chapter.) The chapter explores the narrative practices of self-deception that underlie the consolidation of proprietary whiteness in Jacksonian America. Schocken focuses on Robert Montgomery Bird’s Sheppard Lee (1836), claiming that the novel registers, and seeks to reconcile, anxieties among upper-class whites about ...

Research Focus Group Workshop: Phillis Wheatley’s Desire to Look


At a time when aesthetic philosophy defined whiteness in terms of the ability to behold and surveil the world, Phillis Wheatley Peters developed new forms of countervisuality in Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773). Badley's essay focuses on Peters' ekphrastic poetry, which portrays her lyric personae gazing upon paintings, people, and landscapes in ways that mark the limits of visual perception. By dramatizing spectatorship as a meditation upon opaque surfaces and inscrutable sentiments, ...

Research Focus Group Talk: The Many Journeys of Robert Glenn: Memory, Slavery, and the Transition to Freedom


Professor John Majewski will speak about the 1937 WPA interview of Robert Glenn, who recounted how he was sold as a child as part of the slave trade. After emancipation, he was eventually able to find his parents. Glenn's interview is remarkably rich and detailed, and because he includes many specific names and places, Professor Majewski has been able to begin reconstructing his life using census records and other documents. The discussion will explore the ...