Searching for America’s First Black Woman Novelist

The title page of the Bondswoman's Narrative, written in script on parchment.
The Bondwoman’s Narrative title page via Wikicommons

Join us Thursday, April 11, at 6 pm, for a conversation with literary scholar Gregg Hecimovich (Harvard University and Furman University), author of the recent book The Life and Times of Hannah Crafts, a groundbreaking study of the first Black female novelist in the US. With Skidmore professors Tammy Owens (American Studies) and Jamie Luis Parra (English), Hecimovich will discuss his two decades of research to identify the author of The Bondwoman’s Narrative, Hannah Bond “Crafts,” and tell the story of the remarkable novel she produced while emancipating herself from enslavement in 1857.

Sponsored by Skidmore’s English Department, American Studies Department, Black Studies Program, and the Tang Teaching Museum. This event is free and open to the public.

About the Speakers

Gregg Hecimovich is a Hutchins Family Fellow at Harvard University and professor of English at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. He is the author of six books and edited volumes. He received his PhD in English from Vanderbilt University and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and elsewhere. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in Greenville, South Carolina, with his wife and two children.

Tammy C. Owens is an Assistant Professor of American Studies at Skidmore College. Her scholarship has been published in journals such as History of Childhood and Youth, Departures in Critical Qualitative Research, and Girlhood Studies. Owens is currently writing a book on race and American childhood. Beyond her scholarship, Owens is also a social worker who speaks publicly and publishes writing on topics related to Black feminism, motherhood, and relationships. Owens blends academic research and social work practice together in her consulting work in which she facilitates supportive learning communities on racial and gender inequalities in educational settings.

Jamie Luis Parra is an Assistant Professor of English at Skidmore College and was a C3 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in American Studies at Williams College. His work has appeared in Nineteenth-Century Literature, J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, American Literary History, and Novel. His current book project, Sky Water: Aesthetics and the Limits of Law in Nineteenth-Century American Literature, is about writers wondering about the law’s necessity.

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