Our first reading group meeting of the 2019-2020 academic year will be on October 29th, 5pm-6:30pm, at Rosenwald 405. We will be reading two chapters from Slave Portraiture in the Atlantic World (Cambridge University Press, 2013), edited by Agnes Lugo-Ortiz and Angela Rosenthal:

  • “Introduction: Envisioning Slave Portraiture,” by Angela Rosenthal and Agnes Lugo-Ortiz;
  • “Looking for Scipio Moorhead: An ‘African Painter’ in Revolutionary North America,” By Eric Slauter.

Authors Agnes Lugo-Ortiz (Romance Languages, UChicago) and Eric Slauter (English, UChicago) will lead the discussion.

Slave Portraiture in the Atlantic World is the first book to focus on the individualized portrayal of enslaved people from the time of Europe’s full engagement with plantation slavery in the late sixteenth century to its final official abolition in Brazil in 1888. While this period saw the emergence of portraiture as a major field of representation in Western art, ‘slave’ and ‘portraiture’ as categories appear to be mutually exclusive. On the one hand, the logic of chattel slavery sought to render the slave’s body as an instrument for production, as the site of a non-subject. Portraiture, on the contrary, privileged the face as the primary visual matrix for the representation of a distinct individuality. Essays address this apparent paradox of ‘slave portraits’ from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives, probing the historical conditions that made the creation of such rare and enigmatic objects possible and exploring their implications for a more complex understanding of power relations under slavery.

All texts can be accessed here. To get the password, please e-mail fraga@uchicago.edu. We hope to see you there!

Refreshments will be provided.

Should you have any questions, please contact our graduate assistant Isabela Fraga (fraga@uchicago.edu).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *