Boston, AHA Annual Meeting, Day Two
I spent the morning at a great panel on motherhood and violence in America before the Civil War. Three presentations, chaired by University of Washington’s Stephanie Camp and commented on by University of Mississipp’s Deirdre Cooper Owens. The first and second papers centered on the use of violence by mothers. Katy Simpson Smith (ABD, University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill) provided a series of case studies looking at a proletarian white mother, a Catawba Native American mother, and a series of enslaved African American mothers. Smith persuasively warded off any instinct to generalize or universalize about any “essential” maternal behavior by looking at several different uses of violence by women of different cultural traditions; the paper raised uncomfortable questions about the use of violence in a loving way to instill discipline on the more mild end all the way to the use of infanticide to resist slavery and tribal desperation. Felicity Turner (University of Sydney) focused on Southern court inquests, largely in North Carolina, specifically related to infanticide by white and black m others and the legal systems response to child murder. The third and frankly most impressive work of the panel was Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers (ABD at Rutgers-New Brunswick) on the cross-racial use by elite southern white women of enslaved black wet nurses to care for white infants. Although Jones-Rogers’ assertion that white appropriation and commoditization of black women’s nursing capacities disrupted enslaved families and was, therefore, violent this seemed a thin enough connection to the other papers on maternal acts of violence, especially considering that here, white women were using violence and the threat of violence toward black women’s families to provide for their own white children.
At lunch I had a nice walk through Boston Commons with a friend. And of course, back to the book exhibit where I availed myself of as many desk copy and course adoption samples as possible. I should have brought another suitcase! At the end of the evening a reception for Graduate Students and Early Career Professors gave me the opportunity to eat, drink, and chat with some wonderful people from Brandeis and Washington University-St. Louis. Tomorrow: Panels with Daina Berry, Richard Bushman, Gordon Wood, Joel Sibley, Harry Watson.
Titian, Europa, 1560-62, Venetian
I’m also planning a visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum to see her Matisse, Whistler, and Sargent collections. The Gardner also has a large collection of Italian Renaissance paintings including works by Michelangelo, Fra Angelico, Bellini, Botticelli, Giotto, Piero della Francesca, Titian, and more matched only by the NYC Met and DC National Gallery, including two Raphael paintings, two of only six or seven in the United States. One in NYC and two in DC I have seen, but one is in private hands, and one in California I have not had the chance to see.
John Singer Sargent, El Jaleo, 1882
And of course snow! It’s pretty light and messy, but maybe 3 to 4 inches tomorrow.