Hello, here is another edition of our “weekly” bulletin.
o1. First of all, we are very sorry for not updating as much as we used to. School and work have, in a large measure, prevented us for updating the blog more regularly.
o2. New Layout! We got a bit tired of the previous one and felt this new, brighter look would be appropriate for the season. We used old images of Port-Au-Prince from the Centre International de Documentation et d’Information Haïtienne, Caribéenne et Afro-canadienne (CIDIHCA) and the Bibliothèque nationale de France - Gallica.
o3. Speaking of images, we’ve updated our FAQ to reflect some of the more recent questions we’ve received at this blog and at our gmail address.
o4. We updated and added new documents to our Primary Source page. (It seems many of you are reading primary sources on Haiti, as a good number of those have been digitalized and are freely accessible on the Web. While this is great news, I still think it wise to review this little guide on reading and interpreting primary sources, to make sure you can both appreciate the value of those documents while making sure not to take all its content too literally.) We are always glad to know of new additions, if you have any documents you’d like to suggest to this list, contact us.
That’s all. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week. =)
^ This is a good history blog, with great guides to researching and interpreting primary sources. I highly recommend checking it out.
^ This is the British Library Digitized Manuscripts Site.
A lot of people have asked about my process doing research for medievalpoc. I use a lot of resources and tools that are readily available for anyone to use, and this is one of them. There are thousands of manuscripts available to just page through and zoom in on, as if you had the book right in front of you.
If the idea of searching through endless lists of titles and numbers is daunting to you, the Digitized Medieval Manuscripts Collection has a blog.
The blog makes topical posts with images of the manuscripts according to those topics, and then links to the full manuscripts, so you can go looking at them yourself:
You can learn what the heck a Leucrota is supposed to be here.
They also have a Twitter.
One of the best things about medievalpoc is that I get to see people get excited about art and history, and if you decide you’d like to go exploring, this is a great place to do that. I think the manuscript viewer is relatively user-friendly, and there’s a ton of information about the histories of the manuscripts themselves there, too.
Anonymous, School of Lucas Cranach I
Pfirtscher Altar, Left Wing: Saint Maurice
Oil on Wood, left wing, 93 x 41 cm.
München, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen.
The Image of the Black in Western Art Research Project and Photo Archive, W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University
Where can I get a pair of those pauldrons?
Dark Knight has a good selection of leather pauldrons, and steel ones too. Not exact, but some are pretty close.
My characters are white because they're the 'default' race for me, a mixup of everything. I see no benefits in making them a certain ethnicity just to improve diversity? And it makes sense to me that the supporting cast are also white (1)
Since when I look around at the groups of friends around me, they more or less bunch off according to race. (Whites, asians, jocks (I know this is not a race), mainly). It just seems easier to make everyone white, why is that a bad thing? (2/2)
These will tell you why it is a problem that white people are the default and why representation is important:
Reasons why I have never and will never turn on anon, #5,409.
Anyhow these are all great resources on race and representation, and why it’s very, very important (if it wasn’t already obvious from the anon ask).
Dahomey’s Warrior Women
Speaking of West Africa, the Dahomey Warrior Women involves a fascinating history that spans nearly 200 years. It was during this time that the elite squad of female warriors fought and died for the border rights and inter-tribal issues in the ancient kingdom of Dahomey.
These women, who outranked their male counterparts, were given far more privileges, including the ability to come and go from the palaces as they pleased (unlike the men). They were so revered for their warrior prowess, The Smithsonian explains, that men were taught to keep their distance:
“Recruiting women into the Dahomean army was not especially difficult, despite the requirement to climb thorn hedges and risk life and limb in battle. Most West African women lived lives of forced drudgery. Gezo’s female troops lived in his compound and were kept well supplied with tobacco, alcohol and slaves – as many as 50 to each warrior, according to the noted traveler Sir Richard Burton, who visited Dahomey in the 1860s. And “when amazons walked out of the palace,” notes Alpern, “they were preceded by a slave girl carrying a bell. The sound told every male to get out of their path, retire a certain distance, and look the other way.” To even touch these women meant death.”
Yet as colonialist ambitions grew in the region, the Dahomey female warriors eventually grew sparse. Fierce combat missions to crush the independent kingdom eventually succeeded, and in the 1940s, it is said that the last of the female warriors died.
I’ve posted about this incredible military force for 1800s Week previously, and you can read more about women warriors of color in this Masterpost. There’s also Amazons of Black Sparta: The Women Warriors of Dahomey by Stanley B. Alpern.
Hi! I am sorry to bother you with such a pointed question but I am working on my MA thesis on the Representation of Madness of PoC in Early Modern English literature and am having a hell of a time locating any resources, both literary and, especially, history based. Early modern documentation of this eludes me...I was wondering if either you or any of your followers could help point me in the direction of some historical sources? and if i finally come across anything i would be happy to share!
Actually, pointed questions help because they’re usually specific.
I have a few things, but a major problem with this topic is that “mentally ill” and “people of color” are written about in historical writing as if they are mutually exclusive categories. Especially writing about Europe.
What I have on hand is going to be related to my particular specialization, but I’ll post what I have.
Here’s a painting from Italy c. 1550, entitled “The Crazy Lovers” (Bartolomeo Passarotti):
There are some resources at the link to the original post above.
One exhibit you might be interested in investigating is “Riotous Baroque: From Cattelan to Zurbarán" at the Guggenheim:
Usually associated with dynamism, sensuality, extravagance, and theatricality, withdrawn from the quiet solemnity of classical forms, the baroque era also exemplified an age of instability, marking the collapse of an established order. As noted by the art historian Erwin Panofsky, the baroque was founded in “the victory of subjectivism, which aims to express suffering and humor in equal measure.”
AFAIK it’s pan-European, so you’ll probably be able to find something you can tie into the whole English literature theme. Here’s a little more on another “Riotous Baroque” artist, Pieter Aersten.
There’s always the works of Shakespeare as well, and I think that barbotrobot’s fascinating post on the internalized racism of Othello might be a good place to sort of get into how being subjected to racism and stereotypes can drastically affect the mental health and well-being of people of color in white supremacist environments.
Here’s the post with primary documents (photocopies and transcripts from Elizabeth I’s own hand) that give the historical context on the Black British during the Tudor/Elizabethan era in England. It expands on the usual narrative about the famous Poor Laws being passed as a response to the previous system of Feudalism starting to break down during the 16th and 17th centuries. What a lot of places leave out is that the Black British were used as scapegoats more than once in the attempt to remove supposed throngs of indigent, unstable, and out-of-work “Blackamoores” from England. It didn’t work, since people are not likely to report their good neighbors to be deported, since we’re talking regular folks-cobbler’s apprentices, middle class guildsmen and servants, craftspeople, et cetera.
I have a reading list from the Victoria and Albert Museum on Black and Asian performance in British History, which I think can be easily tied into Early Modern European ideas about madness, religion, and other views from the margins of British Society in literature:
- Alexander, Catherine M.S., and Stanley Wells, eds. Shakespeare and Race,. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
- Banham, Martin, and others, eds. African Theatre: Playwrights & Politics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.
- Banham, Martin, and others, eds. The Cambridge Companion to African and Caribbean Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
- Bean, Annemarie, ed. A Sourcebook of African-American Performance: Plays, People, Movements. London: Routledge, 1999.
- Bourne, Stephen. Black in the British Frame: The Black Experience in British Film and Television. 2nd edn. London: Continuum, 2001.
- Brandon, James R., ed. The Cambridge Guide to Asian Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
- Croft, Susan, and others. Black and Asian Performance at the Theatre Museum: A User’s Guide. London: V&A Theatre Museum, 2003.
- Donnell, Alison, ed. Companion to Contemporary Black British Culture. London: Routledge, 2002.
- Harris, Roxy, and Sarah White, eds. Changing Britannia: Life Experience with Britain. London: New Beacon, 1999.
- Harrison, Paul Carter, and others, ed. Black Theatre: Ritual Performance in the Black Diaspora. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2002.
- Layiwola, Dele, ed. African Theatre in Performance: A Festschrift in Honour of Martin Banham. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic, 2000.
- Lindfors, Bernth, ed. Africans on Stage: Studies in Ethnological Business. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999.
- Tompsett, A. Ruth, ed. Black Theatre in Britain. in ’Performing Arts International’. 1996, vol. I, part 2
If I think of anything else, I’ll be sure to add it here, as well as any recommendation from readers! Best of luck with your thesis, and PLEASE let me know how it turns out!
☛ The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition presents its fifth international conference: Collective Degradation: Slavery and the Construction of Race [aka PDFs GALORE!!!!!!!!!]
While scholars have largely accepted the view that race is a socially-constructed concept, the complex processes of its formation are not well understood — in large part because of the wide and diverse range of contributing factors. The fifth international conference of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition will explore the relationship between the enslavement of Africans and the construction of early and modern conceptions of race and racial hierarchies. The conference will bring together scholars of Graeco-Roman and Biblical antiquity, medieval Europe and early Islam, with authorities on Enlightenment, 19th- and early 20th-century European and American racial thought, with the goal of exchanging and combining insights from a wide range of historical periods and disciplines.
The schedule for the conference is as follows:
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 7
9:00-11:45 Session 1:
Benjamin Isaac, Tel Aviv University: Slavery and Proto-racism in Graeco-Roman Antiquity
David Goldenberg, University of Pennsylvania: Early Christian & Jewish Views of Blacks
Comment: James Brewer Stewart, Macalester College
12:45-3:30 Session 2:
Benjamin Braude, Boston College: Ham and Noah: Sexuality, Servitudinism, and Ethnicity
Peter Biller, University of York, U.K.: The “Black” in Medieval European Scientific Discussions of Regions & Peoples
Comment: Matthew Jacobson, Yale University
3:30-6:00 Session 3:
John Hunwick, Northwestern University: Medieval and Later Arab Views of Blacks
James Sweet, Florida International University: Africans in the Iberian World
Comment: Barbara Fields, Columbia University
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 8
8:00-10:45 Session 4:
Nell Irvin Painter, Princeton University: Why White People Are Called “Caucasian”
George Fredrickson, Stanford University: Race & Ethnicity in the U.S. and France
Comment: Clarence Walker, University of California, Davis
10:45-1:15 Session 5:
Patrick J. Rael, Bowdoin College: Black Responses to Scientific Racism in the Antebellum North
Stanley Engerman, University of Rochester: Racism Without Slavery and Slavery Without Racism in the Mainland North America
Comment: Jennifer Baszile, Yale University
2:00-4:30 Session 6:
Lacy K. Ford, University of South Carolina: Slavery and Racist Thought in the American South, 1789-1865
John Stauffer, Harvard University: White Abolitionists and Antebellum Racism
Comment: Kariann Yokota, Yale University
Tom Holt, University of Chicago
Oh, wow! Resources galore!
Ahhh! This is so cool!
An author was writing historical fiction, and decided (in hopes of escaping anachronistic language) to only use the vocabulary that Jane Austen used. They made a custom dictionary of all the words Jane Austen used in all of her books, and used that to spell check, so it flagged modern words and phrases that she would have totally overlooked otherwise.
I’m thinking it would be incredibly easy to do the same thing for fanfiction, especially book-based - compile a dictionary of, say, all the words GRRM used in ASOIAF, and use that as a spell check dictionary so it would flag any words GRRM did not use…
Or a particular TV show character’s dialogue, though that would involve much more manual effort…
edit: apparently, some historical fiction authors use old dictionaries (circa: 1700-1800s) as their custom dictionaries, even when writing about much earlier time periods. This helps them escape writing with modern-sounding anachronisms that throw modern readers out of the story, but also allows them to use language that a modern reader can understand when writing about time periods where characters should be speaking, say, Old English.
friendly reminder that such a thing has been developed for the les mis fandom
These are some great resources for authors of historical fiction (and/or fan fiction)!
☛ 12 Fundamentals Of Writing "The Other" (And The Self)
We are always writing the other, we are always writing the self. We bump into this basic, impossible riddle every time we tell stories. When we create characters from backgrounds different than our own, we’re really telling the deeper story of our own perception. We muddle through these heated discussions at panels, in comments sections, on social media, in classrooms — the intersections of power and identity, privilege and resistance. How do we respectfully write from the perspectives of others? Below are 12 guidelines to get you started.
One of the best articles I’ve read on the subject. I want to hand this out at every art & diversity panel I speak on. Seriously.
Great, if daunting, list. Takes a while to get over number 2, but you have to.
The bit that I’m struggling with is number 12. If the answer is “no”, does that mean I shouldn’t write at all? Nobody, let alone me, wants a whitewashed story, so if I don’t feel I can do justice to the other then the remaining option seems no story at all. I mean, I haven’t any right to write, but I like to.
So I guess I’ll just have to try my best.
From the great Hiromi Goto’s WisCon 38 Guest of Honor speech, which I had the honor of witnessing in person:
It matters who and what is being focused upon in fiction. It matters who is creating a fictional account of these tellings. I don’t think the “burden of representation” rests upon the shoulders of those who are positioned as under-represented. If this were the case we would fall into an essentialist trap that will serve no one well. However, I’m okay with saying that it is my hope that white writers who are interested in writing about cultures and subjectivities outside of their own consider very carefully:
1) how many writers from the culture you wish to represent have been published in your country writing in the same language you will use (i.e. English) to write the story,
2) why do you think you’re the best person to write this story?
3) who will benefit if you write this story?
4) why are you writing this story?
5) who is your intended audience?
6) if the people/culture you are selecting to write about has not had enough time, historically and structurally, to tell their story first, on their own terms, should you be occupying this space?
Silence. In the space where your voice would have rang out with its distinct articulation. The moment you silence yourself a gap opens up, and someone else who may have no qualms in occupying that space, will leap in to speak out on their own terms. If you’re a writer (a dreamer) from a people, a community, a history that has been long-marginalized, silenced or misrepresented, we so desperately need to hear your story in your voice, in your own grammar of perception and articulation….
Also consider Diversity Cross Check, a resource blog for authors trying to write outside their own experiences.