10/6 Maier Early American History Seminar: Slavery and Freedom on French and American Stages, 1789-99

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“Our Turn Next”: Slavery and Freedom on French and American Stages, 1789-99

Author: Heather S. Nathans, Tufts University
Comment: Jeffrey Ravel, MIT

Tuesday 6 October
5:15 PM

Virtual Event


As the French abolitionist movement gathered momentum alongside the Revolution, Parisians could have seen hundreds of theatrical performances on themes related to race and slavery.  By contrast, the American stage grappled with the choice to perpetuate a slave system within a democracy.  Some performances hinted at slavery’s cruelty, some depicted newly-freed black characters living happily alongside whites, and others proposed returning blacks to the continent as the solution for a dilemma Thomas Jefferson described as holding “a wolf by the ears.”  This paper explores the black revolutionary figure on the U.S. and French stages during the last decade of the eighteenth century, as both nations struggled to put their principles of universal freedom into practice. 

The Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar invites you to come join the conversation on Tuesday 6 October at 5:15 PM. The seminar brings together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. After brief remarks from the author and an assigned commentator, the discussion is opened to the floor. All are encouraged to ask questions, provide feedback on the circulated essay, and discuss the topic at hand. Our sessions are free and open to everyone. Register above to attend, and you will receive a confirmation message with instructions for attending this virtual session. 

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