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Resident Fellows Speaker Series

The Hall Center hosts several faculty and graduate student fellows in residence each semester. During their residencies, our Fellows give talks about their works-in-progress. These events are public and open to all.

Laura Mielke

Dean’s Professor of English

A Well-Lit House: The Reversal of Spectatorship in Nineteenth-Century African American Oratory and Memoir

WED FEB 10, 12:00 - 1:30 PM, via Zoom, please register HERE

While on a lecture tour in early 1848, Frederick Douglass wrote to readers of his newspaper, The North Star, “I beg Anti-Slavery friends who invite persons to lecture in their towns, if they wish to have a good impression made on their townsmen, to see that the house in which the lecture is to be given be well lighted.” Laura Mielke’s book project begins with this moment as emblematic of the way in which African American performers and writers closely observed their audiences in the decades surrounding the Civil War. African American scrutiny of White audiences in particular was politically and rhetorically effective; to observe the observer was to challenge the objectification of Black bodies within mainstream U.S. culture. Examining African American speeches, memoirs, and periodical writing from across the nineteenth century, Mielke is tracing how African Americans scrutinized audiences, affirming their rights by trading the role of spectacle for spectator.

Rachel Epp Buller

Visiting Regional Humanities Faculty Fellow, Associate Professor of Visual Arts and Design, and Director of the Regier Art Gallery, Bethel College

MON FEB 22, 12:00 - 1:30 PM, via Zoom, please register HERE

Making It Work: Art + Parenting

Making It Work: Art + Parenting is a collaborative research project highlighting artists who navigate and address the layered identities of artist and parent. It will result in an exhibition of the same name at the Lawrence Arts Center in Summer 2022. Buller is working on this project in partnership with KU Professor of Art Maria Velasco. Existing scholarship in feminist and maternal studies and art history testifies to the unequal playing field encountered by artists who are also caregivers. In recent years, contemporary artists have devised creative, often community-minded initiatives to make visible and support the needs of artist-parents. Buller and Velasco anticipate that the mandated isolation of COVID-19, when many parents’ responsibilities include childcare as well as overseeing children’s education while working from home, will result in a variety of new creative experiments to find ways to “make it work.” Buller and Velasco are most interested in researching and commissioning new work from artists who explore creative, collaborative models that may point the way toward more sustainable futures.

Andrew Isenberg

Hall Distinguished Professor of American History

The Experimental Empire:  Indians, Squatters, and Slaves in the North American Borderlands

THU MAR 18, 12:00 - 1:30 PM, via Zoom, please register HERE

Experimental Empire challenges the popular notion that the expansion of the United States in the nineteenth century was a foregone conclusion. Instead, the book argues that the U.S. presence in its borderlands was tenuous. While generations of historians have represented John O’Sullivan’s 1845 “manifest destiny” essay as the American consensus on expansion, it was, in fact, a narrowly partisan and fiercely contested view, and competing narratives abounded. Rather than focus on elite voices in the eastern U.S. such as O’Sullivan, Andrew Isenberg’s analysis surveys indigenous people, enslaved people, and landless settlers across a broad swath of the borderlands. Native groups in the borderlands maintained their autonomy; landless whites settled on unregulated lands; enslaved people fled to the borderlands. American critics of the market-oriented, expansionist, slave-holding society in the U.S. saw the tenuousness of U.S. power in the borderlands as attractive; they saw the borderlands as a grand laboratory, where, free of the constraints of the dominant culture, under the protection of native groups or one of America’s imperial competitors such as Mexico, they could experiment with their particular visions for society. Those experiments included vaccinating indigenous people against smallpox, helping them to establish autonomous enclaves, and resettling freed slaves in the borderlands. In short, in the first part of the nineteenth century, borderlands were characterized by experimentation, political accommodation, cultural malleability, and the empowerment of Indians, squatters, and slaves.

Michael Hill

Sias Graduate Fellow, History

The Veneer of Imperial Statehood

TUE APR 13, 12:00 - 1:30 PM, via Zoom, please register HERE

Since its purchase in 1867, American leaders envisioned Alaska as a physical continuation of Westward expansion that simultaneously signaled a shift in American empire. No longer focused on settlement and agrarian capitalism, empire in Alaska represented a swing toward economic imperialism dependent on resource extraction in lands lacking a significant white population or the desire to establish one. For decades, Alaska served as little more than a storehouse of natural resources for the American empire. Investors grew rich by removing gold from the ground and salmon from the water, all the while opposing policies that would bring white migrants, and their demands for democratic representation and conservation policies, to the Far North. World War II and the Cold War that followed forced changes to such plans, however. The Second World War brought more than 100,000 white Americans to Alaska, many of whom remained after the conflict. Not only did these white Americans demand the rights of full citizenship that accompanied statehood, in the decolonizing world of the mid-twentieth century, the United States could ill afford to be cast as a colonial power.  Consequently, the United States granted statehood to Alaska in 1959.  But statehood did not significantly alter the imperial relationship; it served as a veneer that simply obscured the empire in which Alaska remained a colony dedicated to providing natural resources to Americans on the Outside.


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