2012 Summer Seminar in the History of the Book

African American Cultures of Print

Monday, July 9 - Friday, July 13, 2012

Seminar Leaders: Lara Langer Cohen and Jordan Alexander Stein
Guest Faculty: Jennifer Roberts



Monday, July 9

9-10 am Welcome and introductions
10:15-noon Seminar 1:

What is early African American print culture?

Required readings:

  • Wayne A. Wiegand, "Theoretical Foundations for Analyzing Print Culture as Agency and Practice in a Diverse Modern America," in James P. Danky and Wayne A. Wiegand, eds., Print Culture in a Diverse America (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1998), 1-14.
  • Frances Smith Foster, "A Narrative of the Interesting Origins and (Somewhat) Surprising Development of African American Print Culture," American Literary History 17.4 (Winter 2005): 714-740.
  • Leon Jackson, "The Talking Book and the Talking Book Historian: African American Cultures of Print—The State of the Discipline," Book History 13 (2010): 251-308.
  • Kenneth W. Warren, "Does African-American Literature Exist?" Chronicle of Higher Education, 4 March 2011.

Recommended readings:

  • Eric Gardner, Unexpected Places: Relocating Nineteenth-Century African American Literature (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2009), 3-20.
  • Robert Darnton, .What is the History of Books?. Daedalus (summer 1982): 65.83.
  • Thomas R. Adams and Nicholas Barker, "A New Model for the Study of the Book," The Book History Reader, 2nd edition, ed. David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery (New York: Routledge, 2006), 47-65.
noon-1:15 Lunch
1:30-3 pm Archival experience A: The matter of African American print culture
3-3:45 Recap and discussion


Tuesday, July 10

9:00-10:30 am Seminar II:

Authorship and beyond

Required readings:

  • Erica R. Armstrong, "A Mental and Moral Feast: Reading, Writing, and Sentimentality in Black Philadelphia," Journal of Women's History 16.1 (2004): 78-102.
  • Lois Brown, "Death-Defying Testimony: Women's Private Lives and the Politics of Public Documents," Legacy 27:1 (2010).
  • John Ernest, "The Profession of Authorship and the Cultural Text: William Wells Brown's Clotel," from Resistance and Reformation in Nineteenth-Century African-American Literature (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1995), 20-54.
  • Beth A. McCoy, "Race and the (Para)Textual Condition," PMLA 121 (January 2006): 156-169.
  • Holly Jackson, "Identifying Emma Dunham Kelly: Rethinking Race and Authorship," PMLA 122.3 (May 2007): 728-741.


  • Meredith L. McGill, American Literature and the Culture of Reprinting, 1834-1853 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 1-44.
10:30-10:45 Break
10:45-noon Discussion continued
noon-6 pm Field trip:
Museum of Afro American History, Boston (?) or Historical Tour of African American Worcester


Wednesday July 11

9:00-10:30 am Seminar III: Visual culture

Required readings:

  • Phil Lapsansky, "Graphic Discord: Abolitionist and Antiabolitionist Images" in Jean Fagan Yellin and John C. Van Horne, eds., The Abolitionist Sisterhood: Women's Political Culture in Antebellum America (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994), 201-230.
  • David Waldstreicher, "Reading the Runaways: Self-Fashioning, Print Culture, and Confidence in Slavery in the Eighteenth-Century Mid-Atlantic," William and Mary Quarterly 56, no. 2 (April 1999): 243-272.
  • Sarah Blackwood, "Fugitive Obscura: Runaway Slave Portraiture and Early Photographic Technology," American Literature 81 (Spring 2009): 93-125.
  • Marcy J. Dinius, "'Look!! Look!!! at This!!!!': The Radical Typography of David Walker's Appeal," PMLA 126 (January 2011): 55-72.


  • P. Gabrielle Foreman, "Who's Your Mama? 'White' Mulatta Genealogies, Early Photography, and Anti-Passing Narratives of Slavery and Freedom," American Literary History 14.3 (Autumn 2002): 505-539.
10:30-10:45 p.m. Break
10:45-noon Discussion continued
noon-1:30 Lunch
1:30-3 Archival experience B: Visual materials

(Guest Faculty: Radiclani Clytus)
3-3:30 Recap and discussion
3:30-5 Research time (opportunity to consult with curators and work in the library; or to meet with faculty one-on-one)
5-8 pm Reading Room is open late tonight


Thursday July 12

9:00-10:30 Seminar IV: Reading publics

Required readings:

  • E. Jennifer Monaghan, "Reading for the Enslaved, Writing for the Free: Reflections on Liberty and Literacy," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 108 (1998): 308-341.
  • Elizabeth McHenry, "Rereading Literary Legacy: New Considerations of the Nineteenth-Century African-American Reader and Writer," Callaloo 22.2 (September 1999): 477-482.
  • Michael Warner et al., "A Soliloquy 'Lately Spoken at the African Theatre': Race and the Public Sphere in New York City, 1821," American Literature 73.1 (March 2001): 1-46.
  • Eric Gardner, "Remembered (Black) Readers: Subscribers to the Christian Recorder, 1864-1865," American Literary History 23.2 (Summer 2011): 229-259.


  • Robert Fanuzzi, "Frederick Douglass's 'Colored Newspaper': Identity Politics in Black and White," in Todd Vogel, ed., The Black Press: New Literary and Historical Essays (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001).
  • Augusta Rohrbach, "'Truth Stronger and Stranger than Fiction': Reexamining William Lloyd Garrison's Liberator," American Literature 73.4 (December 2001): 727-755.
10:30-10:45 Break
10:45-noon Discussion continued
noon-1:30 Lunch
1:30-3 Archival experience C: African American newspapers

(Guest Faculty: Eric Gardner)
3-3:45 Recap and discussion


Friday July 13

9:00-10:30 Seminar V: Racialization and identity formation

Required readings:

  • Joanna Brooks, "The Early American Public Sphere and the Emergence of a Black Print Counterpublic," William and Mary Quarterly, third series, 62.1 (January 2005): 67-92.
  • Bryan Wagner, "Uncle Remus and the Atlanta Police Department," from Disturbing the Peace: Black Culture and the Police Power After Slavery (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009), 116-184.
  • Joseph Rezek, "The Orations on the Abolition of the Slave Trade and the Uses of Print in the Early Black Atlantic," Early American Literature 45.3 (2010): 655-682.
10:30-10:45 Break
10:45-noon Conclusions
noon Lunch and goodbyes

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