Please join us for Murphy Hicks Henry’s lecture on “Steel-String Magnolias: Women in Bluegrass,” at 4:30 in the Pleasants Family Room, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill. This lecture will focus on women’s historical contributions to the development of bluegrass, which have often been overlooked in favor of male musicians and headliners.
Murphy Hicks Henry is the author of Pretty Good For A Girl: Women in Bluegrass (University of Illinois Press, 2013). She wrote a monthly column titled “On the Road” for Banjo Newsletter for over twenty years before turning it over to her daughter, Casey. She is the cofounder (with her husband, Red) of the Murphy Method, a forty-plus video series offering instruction on the banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and ukulele. Henry and her husband also perform as “Red and Murphy.” They have recorded six LPs and numerous CDs featuring many of Henry’s original songs, including the feminist number “I Ain’t Domesticated Yet.”
Jessica B. Harris, Professor of English and Culinary History at Queens College/CUNY, will deliver her address, “Links in the Chains: Culinary Connectedness in the Atlantic World.” Co-sponsored by the The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History, the Institute of African American Research, and the Department of American Studies, this lecture will examine the cultural and culinary connections shared by the foodways of the African Atlantic World. This event will be held in the Kresge Foundation Room, 039 Graham Memorial Hall.
Jessica B. Harris is the author of twelve cookbooks documenting the foods and foodways of the African Diaspora. Her most recent, High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America, won the International Association of Culinary Professionals 2012 cookbook award for culinary history. Her other books include guidebooks to France and Paris and a book documenting the beauty secrets of women of color. An award-winning journalist, Dr. Harris has contributed to popular publications ranging from Essence to Saveur to German Vogue. Dr. Harris holds degrees from Bryn Mawr College, Queens College, The Université de Nancy, and New York University.
Dr. Harris was the inaugural scholar in residence in the Ray Charles Chair in African-American Material Culture at Dillard University in New Orleans, where she established an Institute for the Study of Culinary Cultures. Dr. Harris is currently a professor at Queens College/C.U.N.Y. and is at work establishing an Institute for connecting culinary cultures. In 2012, she was asked by the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture to consult on the development of their new cafeteria.
Amrita Chakrabarti Myers, Associate Professor of History at Indiana University, will deliver her address, “Making a Way out of No Way: Black Women in the Old South,” in the Kresge Foundation Room in Graham Memorial Hall. This lecture is co-sponsored by UNC’s Department of History.
Examining life, liberty, and ideas about civil rights from the perspective of those invested with the least formal power in the Old South, this lecture will show how black women in Charleston, South Carolina used all the resources at their disposal to enjoy a freedom of their own design. Drawing on family papers, legislative documents, probate records, parish registers, census data, tax lists, and city directories, Myers will argue that many black women served as self-directed social, economic, and political actors in the antebellum South. She will also share her recent research on Richard Mentor Johnson, a Kentucky statesman who served as Vice President under Martin Van Buren, and Julia Chinn, a black woman who became Johnson’s common-law spouse for twenty years.
Amrita Chakrabarti Myers is a historian of the black female experience in the Old South. Her first book, Forging Freedom: Black Women and the Pursuit of Liberty in Antebellum Charleston, (UNC Press, 2011) has received numerous awards, including the 2012 Phillis Wheatley Book Prize from the Northeast Black Studies Association and the 2012 Julia Cherry Spruill Book Prize from the Southern Association of Women Historians. Myers’ work has been supported by a Scholarly Research Fellowship from the Kentucky Historical Society, a Mellon Fellowship from the Library Company of Philadelphia, and a Research Fellowship from the University of South Carolina.
Named for James A. Hutchins Jr. (1917–2002), a distinguished Carolina alumnus who spent most of his life fighting world hunger, the Hutchins Lecture Series has been generously funded by the Hutchins Family Foundation since the 2010–11 season. Speakers are selected with attention to their ability to bring scholarly material to mixed public and academic audiences. Consistent with the Chancellor’s emphasis on outreach and engagement, the Hutchins Lectures bring faculty and students into conversation with community members to discuss issues of common topical interest.
This spring, we look forward to hosting Amrita Chakrabarti Myers on “Making a Way out of No Way: Black Women in the Old South,” Jessica Harris on “African American Foodways, North and South,” and Murphy Hicks Henry on “Steel-String Magnolias: Women in Bluegrass.”
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CSAS welcomes Jesse Alemán, Professor of English at the University of New Mexico, whose address, “Loreta Janeta Velazquez’s Civil War as a Cuban Woman and a Confederate Soldier,” will focus on a woman who masqueraded as Harry J. Buford, enlisted in the Confederate Army, and fought in several Civil War battles before her gender was discovered. Velazquez later published a memoir titled The Woman in Battle (1876), which recounts her cross-dressing military adventures. Professor Alemán will discuss how this narrative gives expression to an “internal civil war” between Velazquez’s sexual, gendered, cultural, linguistic, and religious identities. This lecture will be held at 4:30 in the Kresge Foundation Room, 039 Graham Memorial Hall.
Jesse Alemán has authored numerous articles in scholarly journals and edited collections, including American Literary History, The Oxford Handbook to Nineteenth-Century American Literature, and Hemispheric American Studies. He edited a reprinted version of The Woman in Battle (2003) and co-edited Empire and the Literature of Sensation (2007). Alemán has received awards for teaching excellence from both the University of New Mexico and Middlebury College, where he serves as a summer faculty member at the Bread Loaf School of English. He is currently at work on “Wars of Rebellion,” which considers Hispanic writings about the U.S. Civil War in the context of related wars in Cuba and Mexico.