Throwback Thursday #TBT: Donald G. Mathews’s Slavery and Methodism: A Chapter in American Morality, 1780-1945 (1965)

Matthews, Slavery and Methodism - A Chapter in American Morality

Hello again, folks! It’s time for this week’s edition of Throwback Thursday! On this #TBT, we’re showcasing Donald G. Mathews’s Slavery and Methodism: A Chapter in American Morality, 1780-1845.

A 1780 conference of Methodist ministers identified slavery as an evil that went against humanity, God, and nature. When the Methodist Episcopal Church was officially organized in America four years later, it required its members to free their slaves or leave the congregation. But the church soon softened its stance; although slavery remained frowned upon, the church allowed the practice and set their own regulations in order to maintain their influence over white and black followers of the church and hold the institution together. Slavery and Methodism examines the six decades of religious turbulence that followed as the Methodist church struggled to maintain a precarious balance.

Called “essential reading for all students of American culture” by Choice, Mathews’s book is an illuminating read for anyone interested in Southern history and emancipation.

See you next Thursday!

 

 

Simon Gikandi is Co-winner of the 2012 Melville J. Herskovits Award

Simon Gikandi – Slavery and the Culture of Taste
Co-winner of the 2012 Melville J. Herskovits Award, African Studies Association

The Herskovits Award is presented annually by the African Studies Association to the outstanding book published in African Studies during the previous year.

More information about this and other African Studies Association awards for 2012 can be found here: http://www.africanstudies.org/images/ASA-News-Archive.pdf

Slavery and the Culture of TasteIt would be easy to assume that, in the eighteenth century, slavery and the culture of taste–the world of politeness, manners, and aesthetics–existed as separate and unequal domains, unrelated in the spheres of social life. But to the contrary, Slavery and the Culture of Taste demonstrates that these two areas of modernity were surprisingly entwined. Ranging across Britain, the antebellum South, and the West Indies, and examining vast archives, including portraits, period paintings, personal narratives, and diaries, Simon Gikandi illustrates how the violence and ugliness of enslavement actually shaped theories of taste, notions of beauty, and practices of high culture, and how slavery’s impurity informed and haunted the rarified customs of the time.

Gikandi focuses on the ways that the enslavement of Africans and the profits derived from this exploitation enabled the moment of taste in European–mainly British–life, leading to a transformation of bourgeois ideas regarding freedom and selfhood. He explores how these connections played out in the immense fortunes made in the West Indies sugar colonies, supporting the lavish lives of English barons and altering the ideals that defined middle-class subjects. Discussing how the ownership of slaves turned the American planter class into a new aristocracy, Gikandi engages with the slaves’ own response to the strange interplay of modern notions of freedom and the realities of bondage, and he emphasizes the aesthetic and cultural processes developed by slaves to create spaces of freedom outside the regimen of enforced labor and truncated leisure.

Through a close look at the eighteenth century’s many remarkable documents and artworks, Slavery and the Culture of Taste sets forth the tensions and contradictions entangling a brutal practice and the distinctions of civility.

Simon Gikandi is the Robert Schirmer Professor of English at Princeton University.

 

New Literature Catalog!

We invite you to be among the first to check out our new literature catalog! http://press.princeton.edu/catalogs/lit13.pdf

Of particular interest is the fourth edition of The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, which no reader or writer of poetry will want to be without. Also be sure to note Simon Gikandi’s Slavery and the Culture of Taste, co-winner of the 2011 Modern Language Association’s James Russell Lowell Prize. The catalog also features our Essays in the Arts series including Alexander Nemerov’s stunning Wartime Kiss: Visions of the Moment in the 1940s and Leonard Barkan’s examination of the deliciously ambiguous history of the relationship between words and pictures, Mute Poetry, Speaking Pictures.

Forthcoming titles you’ll want to add to your reading list include the expertly rendered Italo Calvino: Letters, 1941-1985 selected and with an introduction by Michael Wood, Reiner Stach’s riveting Kafka biographies, and Ruth R. Wisse’s fascinating No Joke: Making Jewish Humor.

If you’re interested in hearing more about our literature titles, sign up with ease here: http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/ Your email address will remain confidential!

We’ll see everyone at the meeting of the Modern Language Association January 3-6 in Boston, MA. Come visit us at booth 508! Be sure to stop by at 4:30 p.m. Friday, January 4th for a celebratory reception with the editors of the fourth edition of The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics—the most comprehensive and authoritative poetry reference for more than four decades. Wine and cheese will be served!