2022 Summer Seminars at AAS

It is with great pleasure to announce that two AAS signature programs will return this summer! Sponsored by Center for Historic American Visual Culture (CHAViC) and the Program in the History of the Book in American Culture, AAS summer seminars will be held over the 2022 summer, and we are now accepting applications!

These annual seminars have been successful in assembling a stimulating range of persons as both faculty and matriculants and putting them in touch with AAS library collections, staff, and, just as importantly, with each other. The History of the Book program was founded in 1985 (faculty and participants of the first summer seminar are pictured below), and CHAViC’s seminar was started in 2006. Each offers short-term, intensive training in methodologies and concepts to teachers and working professionals on all levels to make materials more accessible to them and their students and patrons.

These seminars were temporarily placed on hold due to construction on Antiquarian Hall and continued through the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are excited to recommence with these programs this year!

2022 CHAViC Summer Seminar

On Stage: Spectacle in Nineteenth-Century America

Sunday, June 26, through Friday, July 1, 2022

“All the world’s a stage,” wrote William Shakespeare, and so it seemed across the cultural landscape of the nineteenth-century United States. The 2022 Center for Historic American Visual Culture (CHAViC) seminar will focus on visual and material cultures of theater and related histories of spectacle and spectatorship. Interdisciplinary in subject and scope, the seminar welcomes emerging and senior scholars across multiple fields.

Seminar participants will explore theater as a lens for understanding larger practices and ideas of performance and related subjects, including labor, technology, race, and print culture. Workshops and guest lectures will highlight the extraordinary collections at AAS, including engravings, lithographs, photographs, promptbooks, playbills, musical scores, broadsides, periodicals, and ephemera such as theater tickets and trade cards.

Topics will include the spaces, sites, and mechanics of theatrical spectacle, including playhouses, museums, panoramas, public streets, optical technologies, set design, costume design, historical reenactments, and tableau vivants.

The seminar will be held from Sunday, June 26, through Friday, July 1, 2022, at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts. Participation is intended for college and university faculty as well as graduate students and museum professionals.


The seminar leader will be Wendy Bellion, Sewell C. Biggs Chair of American Art History and Director, Center for Material Culture Studies, University of Delaware. She is the author of the award-winning Citizen Spectator: Art, Illusion, and Visual Perception in Early National America (2011) and Iconoclasm in New York: Revolution to Reenactment (2019).

Guest faculty will include:
Bethany Hughes, Assistant Professor, Native American Studies, Department of American Culture, University of Michigan
Douglas A. Jones, Jr., Associate Professor of English and Theater Studies, Duke University
Joseph Roach, Sterling Emeritus Professor of Theater, Emeritus Professor of English, Yale University

Applications are due April 5, 2022, and may be found on our website.

For further information on the seminar, please contact Nan Wolverton, Vice President of Programs and Director of CHAViC, at nwolverton@mwa.org.

2022 Summer Seminar in the History of the Book

Black Print, Black Activism, Black Study

Monday, July 25 – Friday, July 29, 2022

This seminar will explore the relationship between Black print and Black activism during the long nineteenth century, focusing simultaneously on Black print practices and the ethics of studying Black print and life. How did African Americans use a variety of print forms to share and advance issues of import to Black life in the United States? How did the specific print forms they chose to work in and with influence such issues? We will concentrate on a small number of Black authors (e.g., Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Jarena Lee, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper) and collectives (e.g., colored conventions, committees, newspapers) to trace how they engaged with multiple forms of print. Drawing on the American Antiquarian Society’s extensive collection, we will focus our attention on four primary formats: the pamphlet, the newspaper, the records of the Colored Conventions, and the book.

In addition to offering an opportunity to work closely with primary materials, this seminar will provide participants with an introduction to Black Print Culture Studies. Our archival work will be supplemented by scholarship, some of which may be quite recent, but much of which is foundational to this well-established field. We will also learn from scholars in the field through guest lectures and roundtables. All of the writer/activists we will learn from, be they working in the nineteenth century or the twenty first, require readers to reckon with a series of ethical concerns that remain deeply relevant to our world and our work. The study of African American print culture is also an inquiry into citational practices, the institutional forces that have tended to obscure Black print and elide Black scholarship, and the processes and ethics by which Black study compels us to change these structures. Through our readings and discussions, we will not only explore fascinating materials produced by a community of powerful writers, but also cultivate the practices required for engaging with these communities with an eye towards archives, power, and our relation to them.

This seminar will be of interest to graduate students, librarians, archivists, curators, and college and university faculty.


The seminar leader will be Derrick R. Spires and Benjamin Fagan.  Spires is Associate Professor of Literatures in English and affiliate faculty in American Studies, Visual Studies, and Media Studies at Cornell University. His first book, The Practice of Citizenship: Black Politics and Print Culture in the Early United States (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), won the Modern Language Association Prize for First Book and the Bibliographical Society/St. Louis Mercantile Library Prize. Fagan is Associate Professor of English at Auburn University. He is the author of The Black Newspaper and the Chosen Nation (2016), co-editor (with Kathleen Diffley) of Visions of Glory: The Civil War in Word and Image (2019), and editor of African American Literature in Transition, 1830-1850 (2021).

Guest faculty will include:

Nicole Aljoe, Professor of English and Africana Studies, Northeastern University
Elizabeth McHenry, Professor of English, New York University
Kristin Moriah, Assistant Professor of English, Queen’s University

There will also be a special Rountable Presentation on Black Digital Humanities and Archives. Participants include

  • Dorothy Berry, Harvard University
  • Jim Casey, Pennsylvania State University
  • Elizabeth Pope, American Antiquarian Society
  • Jewon Woo, Lorain County Community College

Applications are due April 1, 2022, and may be found on our website.

For further information, please contact Kevin Wisniewski, Director of Book History and Digital Initiatives, kwisniewski@mwa.org

Published by

Kevin Wisniewski

Director of Book History and Digital Initiatives, American Antiquarian Society

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