From Slavery to Freedom Symposium

From Slavery to Freedom: The Formation of African American and American Identity.

The symposium will address the history, culture, and military and literary expression of African-American feeling and thought in pre- and post-Civil War America. It was organized by Professor William Earle Williams, Fine Arts Department in conjunction with three exhibitions at the college: at The Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Unsung Heroes: African American Soldiers in the Civil War, photography by Professor Williams and Emancipation and Denigration: Thomas Nast and His Colleagues Picture Black America, curated by Jay G. Williams, Professor of Religious Studies at Hamilton College, a collection of wood engravings by the famed 19th-century illustrator and his contemporaries; and in the gallery of the Hurford Humanities Center (located in Stokes Hall Room 102) and the Multicultural Center (Stokes Room 106), A Journey Towards Hope: Underground Railroad Sites in Oberlin, Ohio, photography by Coriana Close.

The symposium speakers and schedule:

9:30 a.m. Gus Stadler, English Department, “Hearing Loss: The Sound of Racial Melancholia around 1900,” an investigation of aural representations of African-Americans, African-American history, and lynching in the U.S. at the turn-of-the-century

10:05 a.m. Tracey Hucks, Religion Department, “Theorizing Religious Tabby: African American Religious Beliefs 1619-1865,” an examination of the development of black religious institutions in early America as well as the impact of slavery on Black religiosity

10:45 a.m. Richard Reid, Professor of History, University of Guelph, Canada, “A Different Civil War: African American Experiences during the Civil War”

11:20 a.m. Jay G.Williams, Professor of Religious Studies, Hamilton College, “The Portrayal of the African American Political Condition in the Cartoons of Thomas Nast,” one of the major political commentators of the post-Civil War era

2:15 p.m. Thomas Lloyd, Music Department and Director of the Haverford-Bryn Mawr Choir, “The Origins of the African American Spiritual”

2:50 p.m. Coriana Close, photographic artist (A Journey Towards Hope: Underground Railroad Sites in Oberlin, Ohio), “Uncovering Oberlin's Abolitionist History”

3:25 p.m. William Earle Williams, Fine Arts Department and Curator of Photography, “Unsung Heroes: And the American Vernacular Landscape,” an exploration of how art has the potential to reunite places with their histories and thereby return them to our collective memory

The exhibits will remain on view through Sunday, October 28th: Unsung Heroes features 61 black-and-white photographs of battle sites in both the North and South and are part of a series that Williams has pursued for more than a decade. The exhibit catalog was published by Light Work (organizers of the show) reproduces 40 images in duotone from the contact sheet series. Emancipation and Denigration spotlights the sharp political commentary and biting wit of the man called “The Father of the American Caricature.” Both shows are in The Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery which is open Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from noon-5 p.m., and Wednesdays until 8 p.m. The images in A Journey Towards Hope include large-format color photographs—many taken at night with long exposure times—of buildings in Oberlin that were essential to the abolitionist movement. Coriana Close was graduated from Oberlin’s fine arts program with honors in 2006.