Monday, October 19, 2009

Jessie's first publication, available Feb 16, 2010

In March 2007, I went to the UK (sponsored by the University of Southampton, where Quinn is now!) to deliver a paper on photography and abolition at a conference held in honor of the 200th anniversary of the end of slavery in the British Empire. Cora Kaplan and John Oldfield took interest in my work and invited me to submit a chapter for this volume. Scholarly publishing takes time, but Palgrave Macmillan now lists our book for next spring, and this week it appeared on

From the editors' description :
A collection of new essays, Imagining Transatlantic Slavery offers the latest research and thinking on current debates about the representation - past and present - of transatlantic slavery. Building on the interest generated by the bicentenary in 2007-8 of the end of British and American involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, our volume is interdisciplinary, drawing on history, literature and museum and heritage studies. Its focus is on the transatlantic nature of slavery and abolition, and the essays range from the seventeenth to the twenty-first century. Its distinguished contributors offer a critical view of the histories leading up to the defining decisions of 1807-08 and its complex legacies over the last two centuries. Essays on notable figures such as Phillis Wheatley, Olaudah Equiano, Hannah More, Benjamin Flower, and William and Ellen Craft are juxtaposed with those on early Quaker writing and the use of photography in abolitionist discourse. The last part of the book on 'Remembering and Forgetting' addresses debates surrounding the representation of slavery in drama, visual culture, museums and galleries, and appraises the importance of recent research to public understanding of slavery today.

Contributors: Brycchan Carey, Vincent Carretta, Lilla Maria Crisafulli, Eileen Razzari Elrod, Catherine Hall, Douglas Hamilton, Cora Kaplan, HollyGale Millette, John Oldfield, Jessie Morgan-Owens, Elizabeth Kowaleski Wallace and Marcus Wood

Maybe you want a taste? Here's the first paragraph from my chapter, "'Another Ida May': Photography and the American Abolition Campaign":
Photography’s potential as a persuasive visual adjunct to reform campaigns was recognised from the inception of the medium in 1839, even if before the half-tone process revolutionised printing in 1880 images had to be distributed hand-to-hand. The majority of photographs made in antebellum America were daguerreian portraits: a unique image typically the size of your palm, imprinted on a reflective mirror, encased in brocade and brass. Daguerreotypes circulated without captions; therefore, authors who utilised these early photographs to depict abolitionist ideology found a malleable and suggestive representative space. Their evidentiary power in political debate relied upon writing to instruct audiences how to ‘read’ these images. In this essay I will discuss images of two little girls, both in appearance white, one fictional and the other daguerreotyped, one free and the other a slave, that nevertheless illustrated the same potent message of late abolitionist rhetoric: that however impugned by the public’s anxieties surrounding miscegenation, the invisibility of racial markers demonstrated a moral obstacle to defining slavery along racial lines.
Pre-order your copy now! Or, since it's listed at $74.95, ask your library to order one for you.

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