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Black History Month Lecture: Fugitive Art & Fugitive Testimony

Saturday, February 2, 2013

2:00 p.m.3:00 p.m.

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In the 1990s a number of visual artists (including Kara Walker, Glenn Ligon, and Ellen Driscoll) created art that used literary slave narratives as templates for their work. Slave narratives of the 19th century told the story of enslavement and escape from the perspective of those who had been enslaved themselves. Often the contemporary artists place themselves or viewers in the position of the ex-slave narrator. This lecture brings together contemporary "visual slave narratives" and classic slave narratives from the 19th century to examine the way black artists and writers respond to institutional constraints placed on their cultural production. Slave narratives, called a "black message in a white envelope" by one critic, were constrained by the goals and directives of white editors. However, ex-slave narrators found creative ways to circumvent this narrative containment. This lecture examines the "fugitive" meanings within slave narratives -- that which remain uncontained or challenge editorial constraints.

Janet Neary is an Assistant Professor of 19th-century African American literature and culture at Hunter College. She is currently at work on a manuscript entitled Fugitive Testimony: Race, Representation, and the Slave Narrative Form which examines slave narratives from the late 18th century to their emergence in visual art at the end of the 20th century.

This lecture is sponsored by the New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This event is free but advanced registration is required. Call (212) 923-8008 to register.


Morris-Jumel Mansion in Roger Morris Park Accessible
65 Jumel Terrace
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Morris-Jumel Mansion

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(212) 923-8008

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Education, History, Black History Month, Talks

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