Join the Print Culture Working Group for a talk by Dr. Nazera Sadiq Wright on the Venning autograph books held by the Library Company of Philadelphia. “Black Girls and their Nineteenth-Century Autograph Albums” will discuss how black girls participated in the sentimental practice of scrapbooks and friendship albums in the nineteenth century.
Miranda and Sallie Venning were raised in an elite African American Philadelphian family in the 1880’s. Their autograph albums are archived at the Library Company of Philadelphia in the Stevens–Cogdell–Sanders– Venning Collection. Those who signed the Venning albums upheld the polished graces of elegant handwriting, proper penmanship, and correct spelling. While the signatures convey refinement and discipline, they also reveal evidence of intimate relationships. People touched each album's gilded cover, flipped through its pages, read messages from others, and decided carefully on their own written expressions. Thus, the Venning autograph albums help us think in recuperative, productive ways about touch and intimacy among black girls in the 1880’s that move beyond associations of touch with acts of sexualized violence in the antebellum era.
Dr. Nazera Sadiq Wright is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Kentucky. Her book, Black Girlhood in the Nineteenth Century (University of Illinois Press, 2016), won the 2018 Children’s Literature Association’s Honor Book Award for Outstanding Book of Literary Criticism. Her research is supported by the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. During 2017-2018, she was in residence at the Library Company of Philadelphia as a National Endowment of the Humanities Fellow and an Andrew W. Mellon Program in African American History Fellow to advance her second book on the influence of libraries on the literary careers of eighteenth and nineteenth-century African American women writers.
To RSVP, please contact Athena Pierquet (firstname.lastname@example.org).