Past event

English Research Seminar -- Dr Jillian Caddell Memory-Building, Race and Memorializing in Postbellum America: Mark Twain and John W. Jones in Relation

This talk will explore how the literal space of Elmira, New York, and efforts across time to preserve and shape memory there evinces multiple articulations of how nineteenth-century African Americans constructed their own versions of history alongside and sometimes in contradistinction to what white Americans envisioned. I read the life stories and fiction of two Elmira citizens–the Black activist and cemetery caretaker John W. Jones and the writer Mark Twain–together to understand how, in the wake of the American Civil War, Black citizens not only thought of the monument as an instrument of white supremacy or a genre of critique, but also as a medium for imagining Black futures.