In-Person Research and Writing: Visiting Archives and "Selling Anti-Slavery"


What does it feel like to hold that diary or broadside or sugar bowl you are writing about? In today’s episode, Dr. Christina Gessler is joined by Dr. Teresa Goddu to talk about research, archives, and the book Selling Antislavery: Abolition and Mass Media in Antebellum America.

Today’s book is: Selling Antislavery: Abolition and Mass Media in Antebellum America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020), by Teresa A. Goddu, which is a richly illustrated history of the American Anti-Slavery Society and its print, material, and visual artifacts. Beginning with its establishment in the early 1830s, the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) recognized the need to reach a diverse and increasingly segmented audience. To do so, it produced a wide array of print, material, and visual media: almanacs and slave narratives, pincushions and gift books, broadsides and panoramas. Building on the practices of British antislavery and evangelical reform movements, the AASS used innovative business strategies to market its productions and circulate them widely. In Selling Antislavery, Teresa A. Goddu shows how the AASS operated at the forefront of a new culture industry and, by framing its media as cultural commodities, made antislavery sentiments an integral part of an emerging middle-class identity. Exploring antislavery's vast archive and explicating its messages, she emphasizes both the discursive and material aspects of antislavery's appeal, providing a richly textured history of the movement through its artifacts and the modes of circulation it put into place.

Today’s guest is: Teresa A. Goddu, who is Associate Professor of English and American Studies at Vanderbilt University, and serves as Faculty Head of E. Bronson Ingram College. She is a specialist in nineteenth-century American literature and culture. She is the author of Gothic America: Narrative, History, and Nation; and Selling Antislavery: Abolition and Mass Media in Antebellum America. Her work has appeared in American Literary History, Book History, Common-Place, and other venues. She is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a Senior Specialist Fulbright award.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, who is a freelance book editor. She has served as content director and producer of the Academic Life podcast since she launched it in 2020. The Academic Life is proud to be an academic partner of the New Books Network.

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Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler is the creator, show host, and producer of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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