This talk compares how Black figures in portraits and paintings are attired and positioned in pre-abolition paintings to how artists rendered them in response to the atrocities highlighted by the anti-sugar campaigns. It will include discussions of paintings like Louise de Kéroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth’s portrait with a Black child, the now famous portrait of Lord Mansfield’s nieces Dido and Elizabeth, and W. Pyott’s “The Benevolent Effects of Abolishing Slavery or the Planter Instructing his Negro”. It will also show how Black contemporary artists like Peter Brathwaite’s and Titus Kaphar’s interpretations of pre-1900 paintings should be understood and celebrated as emancipatory acts.
Patricia A. Matthew
is an associate professor of English at Montclair State University
where she teaches courses about British Romanticism, the history of the novel, and British abolitionist literature. She is the co-editor with Miriam Wallace of a special issue of Romantic Pedagogy Commons and with Manu Chander, of a cluster issue in European Romantic Review. She has published essays and reviews in Women’s Writing, Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, the Keats-Shelley Journal, and Texas Studies in Literature and Language and written about race, portraiture, and British abolitionist material culture for The Atlantic and Lapham’s Quarterly. Matthew is the editor of Written/Unwritten: Diversity and the Hidden Truths of Tenure (University of North Carolina Press, 2016) and has published essays and book reviews on diversity in higher education in PMLA, The College Language Association Journal, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, and The New Inquiry. Her work on diversity and equity has been featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education
, Inside Higher Education
, and on The Brian Lehrer Show
. Her most recent essays include “Shondaland’s Regency: On Bridgerton” for the Los Angeles Review of Books and an essay on Frankenstein, race, and Michael Brown in Frankenstein in Theory (Bloomsbury). She is currently editing a special issue of Studies in Romanticism on Blackness in the nineteenth century and writing a monograph about sugar, gender, and British abolitionist culture. Matthew was a 2020-2021 Center for Diversity Innovation Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the University at Buffalo.
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