Ellen Gruber Garvey (Professor of English, New Jersey City University), one of the nation's most renowned experts on the history of American scrapbooks, will give a talk entitled:
Hidden Histories: African American and Women's Rights Scrapbooks [N.B.: The topic of her talk differs from that of the Humanities Center lecture she will give the previous day].
Men and women 150 years ago grappled with information overload by making scrapbooks – the ancestors of Google and blogging. From Mark Twain to Frederick Douglass to Susan B. Anthony, African American janitors to farmwomen, people cut out and pasted down their reading. They devised ways of articulating opinions and compiling data without writing a word.
Scrapbooks let activists who didn’t own the press engage with media. Women’s rights activists documented their pioneering activities in scrapbooks and experimented with how to present their political work to varied audiences. They asserted that the press was not a simple record, but a set of conversations to read critically.
African Americans created scrapbooks to hold communal history. In hundreds of volumes, only a few years after Emancipation, black people asserted that they owned news and culture and passed along their critical, oppositional reading of newspapers.
In their scrapbooks, these nineteenth-century African American and women's rights activists reveal their personal, passionate, often critical, and always dynamic relationship to media.
Professor Garvey is the author of Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance (Oxford University Pess, 2013), winner of four national awards, and The Adman in the Parlor: Magazines and the Gendering of Consumer Culture (Oxford University Press, Winner of the Society for the History of Authorship, Rreading, and Publishing's prize for year's best book on the history of the book). Her articles include work on American abolitionists’ use of newspapers as data, the advertising of books, and on women editing periodicals. She has written for the New York Times' Disunion blog, Slate, and The Root.
She has received fellowships from the National Endowment Humanities, the National Humanities Center, the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the American Antiquarian Society, and held the Walt Whitman Distinguished Chair in American Literature in the Netherlands. At New Jersey City University, she teaches in the English the Department and co-edits the journal Transformations: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy. She was Visiting Professor at the Université Paris 8/Vincennes-St. Denis for the spring 2015 semester.
Mary Saracino Zboray, Visiting Scholar in Communication at Pitt, will act as convener of the session. Light refreshments will be served.