EIHS Lecture: “’Talents Committed to Your Care’: Reading and Writing Radical Abolitionism in Antebellum America”
University of Michigan
Abstract: Through an analysis of words and images as they move through the world of material production, circulation, and reception, “Talents Committed to Your Care” explores the literary and pictorial practices of African American women who read and wrote antislavery at sites ranging from oral to scribal to print. Scholars have focused on these antebellum Philadelphians’ texts as they have appeared in print. Today Professor Kelley will expand the lens and look as well at the equally important oral and scribal forms in which they were disseminated. As printed words and images increased in number and extended their reach in the nineteenth century, they commingled with other modes that remained crucial in the construction of individual identity and discursive communities engaged in social and moral reform.
Mary C. Kelley is the Ruth Bordin Collegiate Professor of History, American Culture, and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan. A former member of the Board of Trustees at Mount Holyoke College, Kelley has also served as a trustee for the American Antiquarian Society. Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014, Kelley has held the Times-Mirror Chair at the Huntington Library and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Massachusetts Historical Society. Kelley is the author, co-author, and editor of eight books. Most recently, she published Learning to Stand and Speak: Women, Education, and Public Life (2006). She is currently at work on “What Are You Reading, What Are You Saying?” a book that takes as its subject reading and writing practices from the American Revolution to the Civil War.
Free and open to the public.
This lecture is part of the Thursday Series of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies. It is made possible by a generous contribution from Kenneth and Frances Aftel Eisenberg.