Friday, January 01, 2010

124th Annual American Historical Association Meetings - Quilts will be discussed

On January 1, 1910 - yes, one hundred years ago - Sistah quilter Harriet Powers passed away in Athens, GA. And, she's still on our minds.

At the 124th Annual American Historical Association Meeting to be held January 7 - 10, 2010 in San Diego, CA, there will be a quilt-related panel discussion titled "Ethnicity and Authenticity: Re-Evaluating Iconic Quilts. This panel is chaired by Patricia Crews, University of Nebraska, Lincoln. The commentator for this two hour discussion will be Vincent A. Brown, Harvard University. On the panel will be:

  • Janet Catherine Berlo, Professor of Art History and Visual and Cultural Studies at University of Rochester (NY) will present: Harriet Powers' Bible Quilt and the Invention of an African-Centered Quilt History.
  • Janneken Smucker, University of Delaware will present "Outsourcing Authenticity: Factory-Made Quilts and the Question of Ethnicity." This paper will examine the controversy from the late 1980s/early 1990s when institutions such as the American Folk Art Museum and the Smithsonian Institution licensed some of their historic quilts to be reproduced in non-US factories. (You might remember when Harriet Powers' Bible Quilt was reproduced. You can still find copies sometimes on eBay.)
  • Marsha MacDowell, Michigan State University Museum in East Lansing, MI will present "Quilts, Primary Sources, and Authenticity." She examines how "Hidden in Plainview", the book by Jacqueline L. Tobin and Raymond G. Dobard about quilts made to signal pathways on the Underground Railroad, went from one person's story to this "truth" now being taught to generations of school children. Specifically, the "paper will examine how voices of authority (i.e. museums, historical societies, holders of Ph.D.s, classroom teachers, academic organizations, government officials, in other words, those individuals and organizations that we have been taught to trust) have played a complicit role in endorsing and perpetuating this story as truth." [I would LOVE to also hear this paper in person as I do not believe there were such map quilts. In all my research about African American quilters and quilting based on articles and documents from the 1800s, I've never come across ONE about such quilts... but that's another blog post!]
The conference will include other non-quilt topics:
  • "Is Google Good for History" - a panel discussion lead by Shawn Martin, Univ of PA, Daniel J. Cohen, Center for History and New Media, George Mason University, Paul Duguid, UC Berkeley, and Brandon Badger from Google Books.
  • "Talking about Teaching American Women's History: Ideas, Innovations, Ideologies" - a panel discussion lead by Steven D. Reschly, Truman State University, Lyz Bly, Case Western Reserve University, Leslie J. Lindenauer, Western Connecticut State University, Margaret A. Lowe, Bridgewater State College, Renee M. Sentilles also of Case Western Reserve, and Tracey M. Weis of Millersville University.
Sounds like it will be an interesting conference! Enjoy!


Karoda said...

sounds like a very dynamic conference! i'm reading Cion by Zakes Mda...its a work of fiction. he is using historical concepts and occurences as central devices in developing the story...the quilt as a tool to inspire freedom is central in the novel.

even though there is no historical data that proves the use of quilts in the Underground Railroad, it is definitely a beautiful iconic idea for folk tales!

katerina said...

Will you be going? I would love to hear more about Marsha McDowell's thesis (and your perspective too!) on Hidden in Plain View. Is there a chance Ms. McDowell's paper could be a link on your blog? Wish I could go to this terrific conference!