CAHI is delighted to present a 2022 Ruth N. Halls Lecture by Saidiya Hartman at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.
Saidiya Hartman is a scholar of African American literature and cultural history whose works explore the afterlife of slavery in modern American society and bear witness to lives, traumas, and fleeting moments of beauty that historical archives have omitted or obscured. Her academic career has been marked by passion, daring, and a readiness to explore the range of ways stories of nameless and sparsely documented historical actors can be recovered. Hartman has influenced an entire generation of scholars and afforded readers a proximity to the past that would otherwise be inaccessible.
Hartman’s most recent book, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments (2019), winner of the 2019 National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism, immerses readers in the interior lives of young Black women who fled the South and moved to Northern cities in the early twentieth century, and in the process created form of intimacy and kinship indifferent to the dictates of respectability. In Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (2007), combines elements of historiography and memoir in a meditation on her travels to Ghana in search of a deeper understanding of the experience of enslavement. With this work, Hartman defies the conventions of academic scholarship and employs a speculative method of writing history, which she terms “critical fabulation,” to interrogate the authority of historical archives as the singular source of credible information about the past. Hartman’s first book, Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America (1997), offers a critical assessment of the violence and domination that remains encrypted even in advocacy-oriented abolitionist rhetoric.
As a CAHI Distinguished Speaker, Hartman will offer a public lecture on her work, followed by a conversation and audience Q&A. She will sign books after the event.
This event is presented by the College Arts + Humanities Institute with support from the College of Arts + Sciences and the Ruth N. Halls Humanities Fund.