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C19: America in the 19th Century

Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists

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The C19 Podcast is a production by scholars from across the world exploring the past, present, and future through an examination of the United States in the long nineteenth century. The official podcast of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists.
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In this episode, we look forward to the upcoming C19 Conference, to be held March 14-16 in Pasadena, California. Jessica Van Gilder (University of Kentucky) interviews Chair of the C19 Program Committee Lara Langer Cohen (Swarthmore College) and G19 leader and editor Courtney Murray (Pennsylvania State University) to discuss the theme and location …
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In this episode, Eagan Dean (Rutgers University, New Brunswick) makes the case that trans studies is an important new area for nineteenth century cultural history and that the stakes of this scholarship are higher than ever. Featuring author Peyton Thomas and scholars Rebekkah Mulholland (California State University, Sacramento) and Jen Manion (Amh…
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How does an enslaved woman's song from 1830s in Georgia end up on a 1950s radio program in South Africa and in a modern singing class? This is the surprising story of an African-born woman named Tena, whose music has echoed for generations across continents, airwaves, and even college classrooms. Mary Caton Lingold (Virginia Commonwealth University…
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Over the last few years, academia has seen a wave of labor action, especially by graduate workers. In this episode, Max Chapnick (Boston University) and Lawrence Lorraine Mullen (University at Buffalo), expand on their MLA 2023 panel on graduate worker labor organizing, exploring the relationship between labor unions, graduate student research, and…
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In the last two decades of the 19th century, newspaper readers across the U.S. were familiar with the work of California writer Yda H. Addis (c. 1857-1941). Her original, adapted, and translated short fiction appeared in newspapers from coast to coast, and her bilingual journalism appeared in U.S. and Mexican periodicals. But by 1900 her career was…
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In this episode, Susannah Sharpless (Cornell University) and Charline Jao (Cornell University) propose gossip as a scholarly approach and indulge their desire to talk about other people. Our hosts connect juicy tidbits from the lives of nineteenth-century women writers to questions about the role of biography, identification, and inference in schol…
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Certain texts and writers have been allotted attention and resources in the study of American literature, while others remain understudied and sometimes even unknown. The efforts of literary recovery seek to make available lesser-known texts by exploring the archives and doing different kinds of editorial work. How might such recovery efforts mater…
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The N-word is here to stay, and so are debates about it. However, scholars and teachers don’t need the word to disappear so much as they need to be more deliberate and intellectually rigorous in handling it. In this episode, Koritha Mitchell (Ohio State University) suggests that students and faculty members should not be subjected to hate speech in…
  continue reading
 
Every week, back in 2018, Ivy Schweitzer and her team of students at Dartmouth College selected several poems and letters written by Emily Dickinson in 1862, a year of creativity “at the White Heat.” They framed these poems with a summary of the news of the time, literary culture, biographical events in the Dickinson circle, a brief survey of more …
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In anticipation of the launch of Season Six – in just a few weeks! – we are sharing favorites from our expanding archive. With this episode we return to an oft-cited conversation from our first year about Charles Waddell Chesnutt (1858-1932), a figure who remains central to nineteenth-century African American literary studies. Scholars have drawn a…
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Everybody knows Walt Whitman (1819-1892) as the poet of Leaves of Grass (1855), but only a few think of him as a newspaperman. Still, Whitman’s journalistic writings are not only more numerous than his poetic output, but they also attracted more readers for much of his career. This podcast episode looks at one of Walt Whitman’s jobs in journalism: …
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It is likely that you walk past a road or building sign every day without the slightest thought about how the names listed on these spaces have rich ties to an activity that is popular in your town or city, important to the history of a particular group of people in your community, or to a historical event that a particular narrative has overlooked…
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This past February, the C19 Ad Hoc Committee on Events brought together eleven scholars to discuss the contributions their first books make to our understanding of nineteenth-century history, literature, and culture. Hosted by Crystal Donker (SUNY New Paltz), this live virtual event included individual presentations and a lively Q&A, where authors …
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In 1842, nine years before the first adoption law was passed in the United States, two sisters from Boston, Anstrice and Eunice C. Fellows, began what would be the first adoption agency—in the form of a reform periodical, The Orphans’ Advocate and Social Monitor. With only the aid of their pens, in a small office near the Boston Common, these women…
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“Reconstructions” is the theme and inspiration for the upcoming, in-person C19 conference, to be held in Florida’s Coral Gables/Miami region this March 31st - April 2nd. In this episode members of the podcast team interview the conference organizers as they prepare for the event and highlight what attendees can expect. Sarah Chinn (Hunter College, …
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This episode highlights the ways that librarians and faculty can partner in designing assignments that draw on archival records to emphasize the cultural, political, and social significance of nineteenth-century literary texts. Specifically, we explore the affordances of using archival records, particularly bills of sale for enslaved people, to tea…
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The coronavirus pandemic in 2020 resulted in not only a devastating loss of life, but a loss of jobs too. As the virus swept the United States, so too did unemployment. What Americans experienced last year during the pandemic was unprecedented in some ways, but the link between crises in health and employment is nothing new. To gain some historical…
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Have we really witnessed, in the words of a 2016 J19 forum, “the end of the end of the canon?” This episode builds on the #VirtualC19 roundtable “Irreverence toward the Canon” held in October 2020. Envisioning the episode as the kind of conversation that ensues in the hallways after a conference panel, Carie Schneider (Cameron University) and Sean …
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In this episode, Elizabeth Duquette (Gettysburg College) and Stacey Margolis (University of Utah) discuss their experiences as co-editors of J19, the flagship journal of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists. In a recording of the live Q&A event from April 29, 2021, Crystal Donkor (SUNY New Paltz) asks the outgoing editors questions a…
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A nineteenth-century tunnel book inspires us to adopt different perspectives on settler colonial regimes and power structures. This second part in the diptych series on comparative settler colonialisms begins with an object lesson based in London about imperial gazes on different colonial landscapes. This episode features Dr. Xine Yao in conversati…
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This episode tracks the literary history of pirates in the long nineteenth-century United States and examines how literary pirates helped singers, readers, and writers contemplate the excesses of capitalism. In four acts, Lydia G. Fash highlights varying tropes for literary pirates. The first act considers the pirate anti-heroes in a ballad about C…
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This episode considers Indigenous and Settler Colonial Studies and artistic practice across the borders of nation states, and across oceans. Beginning with a nineteenth-century archival object, the episode turns to a conversation with artist Maria Hupfield (University of Toronto), who reflects on her work as an Indigenous artist and performer who h…
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This episode explores how letters or "cartas" expounded universalist notions of political self-determination by cultivating intimate states of brotherhood or friendship across the Americas during the nineteenth century. In the recently published Letters from Filadelfia: Early Latino Literature and the Trans-American Elite, Rodrigo Lazo examines thi…
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This episode uses a monument to unravel the story of John W. Jones, a self-emancipated Black activist, civic leader, and entrepreneur living in nineteenth-century Elmira, New York. Jones is most often remembered for the “caring” way he buried nearly 3,000 bodies of Confederate soldiers who died in a Civil War prison camp in Elmira. Jillian Spivey C…
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This episode focuses broadly on digital humanities research and pedagogy in the field of nineteenth-century American Studies, with special consideration given to the varied affordances of infrastructure at different institutions. DH beginner Spencer Tricker interviews Brad Rittenhouse about his project “TMI” (“Too Much Information”), which uses qua…
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Did nineteenth-century abolitionists actually succeed in their aims or did they fail in ways that continue to animate American society? Might their legacy of radical activism be more complicated than the stories we often tell? In her new book, American Radicals: How Nineteenth-Century Protest Shaped the Nation (Crown 2019), Holly Jackson reveals th…
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Mark Twain is an author strongly associated with place, whether it be Hannibal, Missouri, the sleepy hamlet of his childhood; Hartford, Connecticut, the city where he built his lavish mansion; or San Francisco, California, the platform from which he launched his literary career. Yet you might be surprised to learn that Twain wrote *Huckleberry Finn…
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This episode explores the extraordinary efforts that Elizabeth Melville undertook, after her husband Herman's death, to republish his books and to preserve his records. Examining the way that Elizabeth's efforts were written out of the "Melville Studies" that her labors helped to found, we consider larger philosophical questions about how many live…
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“Dissent” is the theme and keyword inspiring the Sixth Biennial C19 Conference to be held in Florida’s Coral Gables/Miami region, April 2-5, 2020. In this episode, members of the podcast team interview the conference organizers as they prepare for the event. Meredith McGill (Rutgers University), Martha Schoolman (Florida International University), …
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During the rapid rise of psychiatric institutions in the nineteenth century a doctor’s testimony and the signature of a husband, friend, or community leader was enough to institutionalize a woman. This episode explores the intake narratives of two patients-turned-advocates, Elizabeth Packard and Lydia Smith, along with intake paperwork from the Dix…
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This podcast explores the Spanish-language dedication poems of nineteenth-century Latinas who exchanged verses in and across the borders of the United States. These verses stage conversations that tease out definitions of femininity and creative expression between women in the public space of the Spanish-language press, and thus before an audience …
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The N-word is here to stay, and so are debates about it. However, scholars and teachers don’t need the word to disappear so much as they need to be more deliberate and intellectually rigorous in handling it. In this episode, Koritha Mitchell (Ohio State University) suggests that students and faculty members should not be subjected to hate speech in…
  continue reading
 
How does looking back to a time before institutionalization and medicalization affect how we think about disability today? What would it mean to "crip" the classics? These are some of the questions answered by Professors Benjamin Reiss (Emory University), Ellen Samuels (UW Madison) and Sari Altschuler (Northeastern University) as they speak with It…
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In February 2018, Mark H., then a Columbia MFA Directing Candidate, presented his production of William Wells Brown’s 1858 play, The Escape; or a Leap for Freedom to a full house at the Lenfest Center for the Arts in Harlem. In this episode of the podcast Brigitte Fielder and Jonathan Senchyne (University of Wisconsin-Madison) talk to Mark H. about…
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May Alcott Nieriker is mostly remembered as a footnote in a famous family: the daughter of Bronson Alcott and the inspiration for Amy March in her sister Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. But Alcott Nieriker was a writer and an accomplished painter who studied in Paris and was described by John Ruskin as “the only artist worthy to copy Turner.” Thi…
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The new issue of J19 is hot off the presses! Starting with the cover image of the 1833 Leonid meteor shower, J19 editors Elizabeth Duquette and Stacey Margolis share their process, advice, and what makes them excited about the ideas and conversations in this issue. Hear teasers about the articles that critically engage crows, notebooks, juvenile de…
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Every week in 2018, Ivy Schweitzer and her team of students at Dartmouth College select several poems and letters written by Emily Dickinson in 1862, a year of creativity “at the White Heat,” and then frame them with a summary of the news of the time, literary culture, biographical events in the Dickinson circle, a brief survey of more recent criti…
  continue reading
 
In our current moment there is an unmistakable need for people who are invested in the knowledge, methods, dispositions, and perspectives cultivated by the humanities. Our trade is nuance: sensitivity to the variability of meaning, a willingness to consider alternative social plots and coexisting answers to complex questions. Yet, in our own profes…
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How does an enslaved woman's song from 1830s in Georgia end up on a 1950s radio program in South Africa and in a modern singing class? This is the surprising story of an African-born woman named Tena, whose music has echoed for generations across continents, airwaves, and even college classrooms. Mary Caton Lingold (Virginia Commonwealth University…
  continue reading
 
Why discuss poor whites when thinking about race and class in nineteenth-century America and beyond? In this dialogue between literary studies and history Matthew Teutsch (Auburn University) and Keri Leigh Merritt (Masterless Men: Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South (Cambridge UP, 2017)) talk about how wealthy white landowners manipulat…
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Today, we associate the theory of evolution with Charles Darwin. But in America in the nineteenth-century, and well into the twentieth, the evolutionary theory of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck were far more influential than Darwin's. In this episode, Kyla Schuller (Rutgers) and Britt Rusert (UMass Amherst) discuss the ways that Lamarckian thought influence…
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How is studying and teaching nineteenth-century U.S. literature different outside of the U.S.? Do British scholars have different horizons than their American counterparts? This episode of the C19 podcast provides scholars in the U.S. and the rest of the world with insight into scholarship, disciplinary practices, and current issues in British High…
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Why should we care about a once famous, then forgotten woman writer? While conducting research in the Washington State archives, Laura Laffrado (Western Washington University) stumbled upon the twelve linear feet of the papers of forgotten Pacific Northwest author Ella Rhoads Higginson (1862?-1940) and set out to recover Higginson and her storied l…
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How do the recovered lives and work of Black writers find an audience? Over the last three decades, Charles Waddell Chesnutt (1858-1932) has become central to nineteenth-century African American literary studies. Scholars have drawn attention to the subtlety, wit, and complexity of his stories, novels, and essays, which were once regarded as pander…
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What do you do when you don't go looking for a book-- it comes and finds you instead? That's what happened to Jean Lee Cole (Loyola University Maryland) when she ran into the words of H.M.T. in the pages of the Christian Recorder. It took nearly ten years, but H.M.T. eventually got his way. The story behind Freedom's Witness: The Civil War Correspo…
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Can 19th-century approaches to slavery provide a map for thinking about 21st century trafficking? In this episode, Anna Mae Duane (UConn)leads a dialogue about how we can--and can’t--bring the nineteenth century to bear on the current phenomenon largely referred to as “Modern Slavery”--a term that is itself deeply controversial. The conversation ce…
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J19: The Journal of Nineteenth Century Americanists was launched in 2013. Published twice annually, the official publication of the C19 organization is dedicated to innovative research on, and analysis of, the long nineteenth century. In this episode members of the C19 Podcast team bring you an exclusive interview with the new co-editors of the jou…
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“Climate” is the theme and keyword for the Fifth Biennial C19 Conference located at Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 22-25 2018. For our inaugural episode, members of the C19 Podcast team interviewed the organizers of the upcoming conference. Hester Blum (Penn State), Jesse Aleman (UNM), and Carrie Bramen (SUNY Buffalo) share insights about the ide…
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