Cheryl Finley

presents

Committed to Memory:
The Art of the Slave Ship Icon

in conversation with HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR.

This event includes a book signing

Date

Oct
12
Friday
October 12, 2018
3:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store, the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, and Mass Humanities welcome art historian and Cornell associate professor CHERYL FINLEY for a discussion of her latest book, Committed to Memory: The Art of the Slave Ship Icon. She will be joined in conversation by HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR.—the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center.

About Committed to Memory

One of the most iconic images of slavery is a schematic wood engraving depicting the human cargo hold of a slave ship. First published by British abolitionists in 1788, it exposed this widespread commercial practice for what it really was—shocking, immoral, barbaric, unimaginable. Printed as handbills and broadsides, the image Cheryl Finley has termed the "slave ship icon" was easily reproduced, and by the end of the eighteenth century it was circulating by the tens of thousands around the Atlantic rim. Committed to Memory provides the first in-depth look at how this artifact of the fight against slavery became an enduring symbol of black resistance, identity, and remembrance.

Finley traces how the slave ship icon became a powerful tool in the hands of British and American abolitionists, and how its radical potential was rediscovered in the twentieth century by black artists, activists, writers, filmmakers, and curators. Finley offers provocative new insights into the works of Amiri Baraka, Romare Bearden, Betye Saar, and many others. She demonstrates how the icon was transformed into poetry, literature, visual art, sculpture, performance, and film―and became a medium through which diasporic Africans have reasserted their common identity and memorialized their ancestors.

Beautifully illustrated, Committed to Memory features works from around the world, taking readers from the United States and England to West Africa and the Caribbean. It shows how contemporary black artists and their allies have used this iconic eighteenth-century engraving to reflect on the trauma of slavery and come to terms with its legacy.

Praise

"An original and brilliantly conceived account of how the horrors of the transatlantic trade in human cargo have been visualized in art and culture over more than two centuries. Finley has written a nuanced and provocative book that leaves an imprint on one's mind as indelible as the slave ship icon itself." ―Kellie Jones, author of EyeMinded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art

"Stimulating and insightful. Finley hones in on the cultural and political strategies that have animated and illustrated the impact of the Atlantic slave trade." ―Deborah Willis, author of Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present

Cheryl Finley
Cheryl Finley

Cheryl Finley

Cheryl Finley is an associate professor of art history at Cornell University. She is the coauthor of Harlem: A Century in Images and the coeditor of Diaspora, Memory, Place: David Hammons, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Pamela Z.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and founding Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, Professor Gates has authored or co-authored twenty-one books and created fifteen documentary films.

Photo credit: Peter Simon

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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Event Series: Friday Forum

Harvard Book Store's Friday Forum series takes place on Friday afternoons during the academic year as a way to highlight scholarly books in a wide range of fields, with a particular focus on local scholars. Friday Forums take place at 3pm in Harvard Book Store.

Co-Sponsored by the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research

The Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University supports research on the history and culture of people of African descent the world over and provides a forum for collaboration and the ongoing exchange of ideas. Learn more at hutchinscenter.fas.harvard.edu.

Co-Sponsored by Mass Humanities

Mass Humanities

Mass Humanities conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Learn more at masshumanities.org.

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