Fugitive science, antislavery politics, and women in the flash press: Readex Report (April 2020)
In this issue: Turn-of-the-century black intellectuals challenge a dark pseudo-science; the contentious politics of antislavery in early 20th-century newspapers; and the flash press reveals ordinary and outrageous lives of urban women.
Britt Rusert, Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Fugitive Science: Empiricism and Freedom in Early African American Culture (NYU Press, 2017) traces a forgotten history of black resistance to the ascendency of racial science in the nineteenth century. Beginning in the late eighteenth century, naturalists, medical doctors, comparative anatomists, and a variety of gentleman scientists became increasingly interested in the construction of human taxonomies that justified regimes of settler colonialism and enslavement in the Americas. Enslaved and indigenous people were easy targets for human experiments because of their capture and confinement within spaces like the plantation, the slave ship, and later, the reservation. > Full Story
Barbara McCaskill, Professor, Department of English, University of Georgia, and Sidonia Serafini, PhD Student, Department of English, University of Georgia
In the late 1890s, Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee Institute’s principal and a former slave, was one of the most recognized black men on the planet. His agenda for enabling jobs and education for post-Reconstruction black southerners also assuaged many white Americans’ anxieties about black economic competition and political empowerment. Another former slave turned educator shared Washington’s politics and vied with him for fame. The Rev. Peter Thomas Stanford, M.A., M.D., D.D., L.L.D., and PhD, was hailed by the Sept. 12, 1903, Richmond Planet as “the next best known man in the work of educating his people to Booker T. Washington.” > Full Story
Katherine Hijar, Assistant Curator, Mystic Seaport Museum
American Underworld: The Flash Press offers rare glimpses of women's place and presence in nineteenth-century northeastern American cities. The digital collection is particularly rich in evidence of women as entrepreneurs, entertainers, and consumers of goods and cultural products. Cultural historians and literary scholars will also find fictional women across the database, with women appearing in serialized stories as sweethearts and wives, mothers, victims of crime, and working women. > Full Story
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