Lloyd Pratt (Oxford) at Americanist Colloquium

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 6:30pm to 8:30pm
413 Kent Hall
Event Category: 

Columbia University's 19th-Century American Literature Colloquium

Department of English & Comparative Literature
invites you to a lecture by Professor Lloyd Pratt

University Lecturer in American Literature and  
Associate Professor of English at the University of Oxford

"Around 1845: 
African American Humanism and 
the Making of Self-Evidence"

March 11 @ 6.30 pm
413 Kent Hall 

For some, the debate over what constitutes the human takes on the appearance of an advanced parlor game. For others, it means asserting the simple right to be, while at the same time investigating the more complex entitlements of being human. Importantly, the latter activity is often the only thing that effectively secures the former. African American writers who do the latter are often misrecognized as having undertaken nothing more than a form of petition. Such misrecognition constitutes a form of aggressive erasure. This paper considers African American practices of reprinting and elision that simultaneously establish the self-evidence of a broadly consequential African American humanness, foreclose “debate” on the topic of black humanness, and revise the meaning of the human as it is understood to apply to all. The composition, publication, and reprinting histories of General Andrew Jackson’s two 1814 addresses “To the Free Colored Inhabitants of Louisiana”; William Lloyd Garrison’s 1832 Thoughts on African Colonization, which reprints the second of Jackson’s addresses; and the 1853 “Address, of the [Rochester] Colored National Convention, to the People of the United States” open up these issues of self-evidencing, apparatus, and address.

Lloyd Pratt is University Lecturer in American Literature and Associate Professor of English at the University of Oxford. He is the author of Archives of American Time: Literature and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010). His essay “‘I Am a Stranger with Thee’: Frederick Douglass and Recognition after 1845” won the 2013 Norman Foerster Prize for Best Essay in American Literature. His “Early American Literature and Its Exclusions” also appeared in the recent PMLA (October 2013) section on “Early American Literature.”