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Academic Seminars


"'Abuse Not': Flesh and Bones in Sarah Mapps Douglass' Classroom"


April Haynes

(Hench Post-Dissertation Fellow, American Antiquarian Society)

Wednesday, April 21 2010, at 4:30 p.m.
Pavilion Room, Peter Green House
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

PRÉCIS: Sarah Mapps Douglass (1806-1882) was an African-American Quaker and a founding member of the Philadelphia Female Antislavery Society. In the 1850s, she became the head of the girls department of the Philadelphia Institute for Colored Youth and delivered a number of lectures on physiology. Douglass overtly challenged racism while subtly navigating the politics of benevolence and channeling resources toward autonomous black institutions. Using the reports of philanthropists and colleagues who visited her classroom, this talk will show reform physiology in action. In the context of antebellum Philadelphia—where popular physiology lecturers taught thousands of white auditors how to read flesh and bones for racialized, gendered, and sexual meanings—Douglass created a protected, dynamic environment in which African-American girls learned to speak about embodiment.

Directions: The Peter Green House (home to Brown's history department) is located at the corner of Brown and Angell Streets on the Brown campus in Providence. Access to the Pavilion Room is avaiable through the porch stairs on Angell St.


A wine and cheese reception will follow the talk. Afterwards, there will be a dutch-treat dinner at a nearby restaurant. Please indicate your plans, especially if you wish to stay for dinner, by sending the completed form to Ann-Cathrine Rapp (or e-mail by April 14. the calendar and electronic registration form.

The Society regrets that it is unable to make refunds after that date.

Reservations are suggested (and deeply appreciated) for attending the seminar. Reservations are required to attend the supper.