SPECIAL to #ADPhD: Rael on “Lincoln’s Unfinished Work”

Lincoln, Official Poster
Lincoln, Official Poster

Lincoln’s Unfinished Work
Patrick Rael (Bowdoin College)
Special to African Diaspora, Ph.D.

Amidst the widespread discussions of Steven Spielberg’s recent film Lincoln, few have sought to place the film within its own tradition of Civil War films. There’s nothing new, of course, about focusing a film on the character of Abraham Lincoln, though it has been well over thirty years since a major television or film production took him seriously (Hal Holbrook in Sandburg’s Lincoln [1974]).

In the early days it was different. The American film industry grew around his figure. In The Birth of a Nation, D.W. Griffith’s ground-breaking, racist masterpiece of 1915, Lincoln appeared as a wizened and tolerant executive at war with the maniacal Radical Republicans, whose racial tolerance merely masked their desire for vengeance against the rebels. In Griffith’s film, Lincoln’s premature death unleashed the Radicals, necessitating the bloody turmoil of Reconstruction. In the form of the Ku Klux Klan, only the energized spirit of white supremacy could save white womanhood — and, indeed, Anglo-Saxon civilization — from the rampaging black beast.

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CFP: “Pictures from an Expedition: Aesthetics of 19th-century Cartographic Exploration in the Americas” (Newberry Library)

Call for Papers:
Newberry Library Symposium, June 20-21, 2013, Chicago, IL
“Pictures from an Expedition: Aesthetics of 19th-century Cartographic Exploration in the Americas”

We seek historians, art historians, geographers, and scholars of visual culture for a symposium to be held in Chicago at the Newberry Library on June 20-21, 2013. The symposium will consider the aesthetics and visual culture of 19th-century cartographic exploration in the Americas. The nineteenth century represented a high point in mapping expeditions at the hemispheric level. These ostensibly scientific expeditions, which charted territories often in support of nation building projects, produced vast amounts of visual and artistic materials. This symposium will focus on this visual material addressing such questions as: What kinds of 19th-century visual practices and technologies of seeing do these materials engage? How does scientific knowledge get translated into the visual and disseminated to the public? Can looking at mapping hemispherically challenge a distinction between North American and South/Central/Latin American methodologies or practices of exploration? We are interested in all forms of visual representation, including maps, sketches, drawings, landscape paintings, photography, lithography, etc. Scholars focusing on visual aspects of indigenous mappings, polar or Alaskan exploration, and Amazonian South America are particularly encouraged to submit proposals.

The symposium is generously funded by a grant from the Terra Foundation for American Art. Participants’ travel and lodging will be covered.

Proposals including a title and abstract (maximum 500 words) should be sent by Monday, January 14, 2013 to:

Ernesto Capello, History, Macalester College, ecapello@macalester.edu
Julia Rosenbaum, Art History, Bard College, rosenbau@bard.edu

FILM/ESSAYS: Chronicle “Conversation” on Spielberg’s Lincoln

Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln
Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln

The Conversation Blog at the Chronicle of Higher Ed hosted a roundtable on Spielberg’s recent release Lincoln:

As viewers flock to see Lincoln, and reviewers rave about Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance, historians are raising different issues: How accurate is the film’s portrayal of emancipation? What does it leave out? The Chronicle Review asked several scholars to weigh in.

Posts include:

Kate Masur, “A Filmmaker’s Imagination, and a Historian’s”

Harold Holzer, “Reel Lincoln: The Case for the Spielberg Film”

Barbara Krauthamer, “Slavery’s Grotesque and Relentless Violence”

Nina Silber, “Spielberg: Reconciliation or Reconstruction?”

Thavolia Glymph, “Untellable Human Suffering”

via The Conversation – The Chronicle of Higher Education

CONF: Telling the History of Slavery: Scholarship, Museum Interpretation, and the Public at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

Fri, February 22, 2013, 9:00 am – Sat, February 23, 2013, 4:00 pm
Reservations: Required

This two-day event will feature panel discussions exploring recent innovations in slavery research and its impact on scholarship and public interpretation.  Bringing together leading experts from across academia, museums, and documentary filmmaking, the conference will include four panels, each with four presenters and a commentator, a plenary address by noted slavery historian Philip Morgan, and demonstrations of new research databases, analysis tools, and examples of digital history projects. The conference will provide opportunities for dialogue among presenters and attendees on the new opportunities and challenges that scholars, curators, educators, family historians, and the general public now face with recent advances in slavery research.

Sessions held at Monticello’s Robert H. Smith Center at Montalto.

Sponsored by Monticello, Thomas Jefferson Foundation with the participation of Morven, University of Virginia.

via Telling the History of Slavery: Scholarship, Museum Interpretation, and the Public « Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

Congratulations to James H. Sweet, Winner of the 2012 Douglass Prize

James H. Sweet (University of Wisconsin)
James H. Sweet (University of Wisconsin)

From the Gilder Lerhman Center:

James Sweet, Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Frederick Douglass Book Prize for his book, Domingos Álvares, African Healing, and the Intellectual History of the Atlantic World (University of North Carolina Press). The Douglass Prize was jointly created by Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. It is awarded annually by Yale’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the best book written in English on slavery or abolition. The $25,000 prize will be presented to Sweet at a reception sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute in New York City in February 2013.

In addition to Sweet, the other finalists for the prize were Robin Blackburn for The American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights (Verso Books); R. Blakeslee Gilpin for John Brown Still Lives!: America’s Long Reckoning with Violence, Equality, and Change (University of North Carolina Press); and Carla L. Peterson for Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City (Yale University Press)….

Read the rest here.

(Belated!) congratulations to Sweet and to all of the finalists.

Domingos Alvares

BOOK: Curran on the Anatomy of Blackness

Anatomy of Blackness

Andrew S. Curran, The Anatomy of Blackness: Science and Slavery in an Age of Enlightenment. 1st ed. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011.

From Johns Hopkins University Press:

This volume examines the Enlightenment-era textualization of the Black African in European thought. Andrew S. Curran rewrites the history of blackness by replicating the practices of eighteenth-century readers. Surveying French and European travelogues, natural histories, works of anatomy, pro- and anti-slavery tracts, philosophical treatises, and literary texts, Curran shows how naturalists and philosophes drew from travel literature to discuss the perceived problem of human blackness within the nascent human sciences, describes how a number of now-forgotten anatomists revolutionized the era’s understanding of black Africans, and charts the shift of the slavery debate from the moral, mercantile, and theological realms toward that of the “black body” itself. In tracing this evolution, he shows how blackness changed from a mere descriptor in earlier periods into a thing to be measured, dissected, handled, and often brutalized.

Penetrating and comprehensive, The Anatomy of Blackness shows that, far from being a monolithic idea, eighteenth-century Africanist discourse emerged out of a vigorous, varied dialogue that involved missionaries, slavers, colonists, naturalists, anatomists, philosophers, and Africans themselves.