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White into Black: Seeing Race, Slavery, and Anti-Slavery in Antebellum America

Sarah L. Burns, Indiana University
Joshua Brown, The Graduate Center, CUNY

This exploration of popular images of slavery and abolition provides close readings of a range of mid-nineteenth century visual works, including statues, political cartoons, reform illustrations, paintings, and photographic portraits. Examining these diverse sources reveals the complicated ways that images influenced popular understanding about race and equality in the antebellum period, and how visual media were used in the struggle to end slavery.

“For a Noble Man, a Prince”: Images and Identity in Colonial America

Phyllis Hunter, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Paul Staiti, Mount Holyoke College

Images and objects from paintings to wallpaper and almanac prints to furniture served to shape their owners identities in British America before the revolution. This activity assists in deciphering the messages in visual images that convey social status and economic power in the late colonial period.

Picturing The American West

Catherine J. Lavender, The College of Staten Island/City University of New York

This essay provides a brief chronological overview of the visual evidence available for teaching about the American West. Lavender discusses some of the first representations of the region by the different populations that claimed it as their own, depictions of the West as a site of nineteenth-century U.S. expansionism, and visual materials that illustrate the complicated ways the region’s distinctiveness has been represented into the twentieth century.

Visual Evidence in Jacksonian America

David Jaffee, Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture

When teaching about Jacksonian America, certainly one topic that comes to mind as critical is the market revolution. This short essay examines the visual evidence for the market revolution by examining family portraits, including folk portraiture, landscape paintings, and political cartoons. Professor Jaffee suggests ways to combine text and images in order to utilize images in teaching not as mere illustrations but rather as objects that constitute historical meaning.

Picturing Colonial America

Peter C. Mancall, University of Southern California

This essay provides a brief chronological overview of the visual evidence available for teaching about the British colonies in North America. Mancall provides information on some of the first European images of America from the 1590s that were crucial for Britain’s colonizing mission, the depictions of the Pequot War, and the drawings that addressed the political crisis of the 1760s.