Dr. Celeste-Marie Bernier will visit UD's Department of English on Friday, October 11 to speak with students and faculty on the topic of "Imaging Frederick Douglass: Imagining Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey." Please join us at 3:00 pm in the 3rd floor lounge of Memorial Hall. Refreshments will be served.
The purpose of this talk will be to examine Douglass's vastly neglected speech, "Pictures and Progress" - and its various unpublished manuscript draft variations - in order to map his theoretical understanding of the shifting relationships between photography, the "picture-making process" more generally and political reform. Working to transform formerly enslaved women, men and children from their widespread objectification in the "chattel records" of slavery into the appropriate subject-matter for fine art, Douglass was a quintessential experimenter with self-representation and self-fashioning especially with regard to the highly charged terrain of white mainstream portraiture. A virtuoso manipulator of the signifying power of daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, cartes de visite, cabinet cards, and much much more, Douglass effected his own transformation from activist and author into that of self-proclaimed "painter" as he defied his status as the archetypal "fugitive slave" to assume the guise of the archetypal "fugitive slave artist."
Professor Bernier is currently a visiting Professor at the Institute of North American Studies, contributing to both the teaching and research of the Institute. Professor of African American Studies at the University of Nottingham, and Associate Editor of the Journal of American Studies (Cambridge University Press). She is currently the Senior Research Fellow at the Rothermere American Institute and an Academic Visitor in the History of Art Department and at Wolfson College, all at the University of Oxford, as well as an Associate Fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Studies, Harvard University.