Friday, June 28, 2019

Summer Touring Schedule (such as it is)

The book tour, such as it is, continues. Now is the season of summer schools and institutes, which are always fantastic no matter how you participate in them.

Last week, the lovely and brilliant Douglas Egerton and I drove down to Lawrenceville Academy in Princeton, New Jersey, to speak to historian Erik Chaput's summer school class on Frederick Douglass. The class is on Frederick Douglass, that is. Doug spoke about black abolition and I used Anna Murray to guide them through methods of research and ways to alert themselves to questions that they should be asking when they confront different types of information in documents. I had a great time, and I hope that they did, too. I forgot that they were high school seniors because they acted and thought like college seniors.

Only the book in the center is mine. 
The rest are only a fraction of Doug's output.
Erik took the picture.

Next up will be Graham Hodges' NEH Seminar for teachers on Abolition and the Underground Railroad at Colgate University, followed by Carol Berkin's on American Women at War in New York City, then on to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to chair a panel on abolition at the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic's annual meeting, followed by the Chittenango Boat Landing at the beginning of August. That last one is open to the public.

Fall will take this show overseas again, this time to Newcastle-upon-Tyne for Newcastle University's INSIGHTS series of lectures (this is last year's program). Newcastle was the home of the Richardsons, who began the campaign to purchase Douglass's freedom and provide the seed money for the North Star. Guess what my talk will be about?

Meanwhile, (among other things like two book proposals, one submitted) I'm writing an essay for an anthology, Frederick Douglass in Context, edited by Michael Roy, who was part of that conference in Paris last year. My essay is about Douglass and family, and I don't want to retread what I have already said nor do I want to tread on what I know of Ezra Greenspan's upcoming work (as if I could ever be as good!). Looking back on something that you've gone over a million times to see something new can be a challenge because you have to step away from your own patterns and ruts of thinking when you sometimes aren't even aware that you have them. I also have a problem figuring out when I'm saying something original because I'm too aware of where I picked up so many ideas and then I've lived with my own configuration of them for so long. Knowing what you have can sometimes be a different thing from stepping back and re-asking, "what do I have?"

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