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Heidi Morse
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1382)
Black Women and the Classical Traditions of Greece and Rome in 19th-Century America

Research and writing leading to publication of a book on how African American women used classical Greco-Roman traditions of rhetoric and art to promote racial equality in 19th-century America.

Teaching and Testifying asks what the thriving culture of classical Greco-Roman adaptations in nineteenth-century America meant to African Americans, and to popular conceptualizations of race, gender, and citizenship, before and after Emancipation. From schoolrooms to public lectures to art galleries, the classics were omnipresent in early Americans’ everyday lives—even as classical education operated as a social machinery of exclusion that denied access to many African Americans, especially women. This book narrates the hidden history of black classicism as a popular cultural phenomenon. I show how black women speaking in public performed embodied hybridizations of classical rhetoric and black cultural expressions that promoted racial equality and shattered the myth of white classical inheritance.

Project fields:
African American Studies; Classics

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2018 – 7/31/2018