Thursday, November 15, 2007

UA Professor to speak on her book, which examines the role of ‘mammy’ in modern American Politics and Culture.

On Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 4:30 pm, Dr. Micki McElya, Assistant Professor of American Studies at The University of Alabama will discuss her new book, Clinging to Mammy: The Faithful Slave in Twentieth-Century America (Harvard University Press, 2007). The event will be held in the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library, on the 2nd floor of Mary Harmon Bryant Hall, 500 Hackberry Lane, on The University of Alabama campus. The talk will begin at about 4:45 pm in the Hoole Library reading room, followed by a reception and book signing in the lobby of the Hoole Library.

McElya’s powerful and beautifully written book examines the far-reaching image of the nurturing, faithful enslaved woman and her hold on the American imagination. McElya exposes the power of the myth of ‘mammy’, an omnipresent figure in popular culture -- from film, song and literature, to advertising and our grocery store shelves, as well as in national monument proposals, child custody cases, white women’s minstrelsy, activism, anti-lynching campaigns and the Civil Rights movement . These images have existed and persisted from the era of the Civil War to today. It is through her carefully researched and thought provoking narrative that McElya argues, “if we are to reckon with the continuing legacy of slavery in the United States, we must confront the depths of our desire for mammy and recognize its full racial implications.”

Scott Sandage, author of Born Losers: A History of Failure in America says, “McElya shows vividly how ‘mammy’ serves as a perfect archetype for analyzing cultural politics of race and gender and how they changed. She gives us parlor theatrics, courtroom drama, legislative debate and movement politics. This is a wonderfully expansive book.”

A small exhibition of materials that illuminate aspects of McElya's book, will be on display in the Hoole Library, curated by Portia Barker, graduate student in American Studies and intern at the Hoole Library, along with Mary Keeley McAllister, undergraduate student assistant who is majoring in Visual Journalism with a minor in American Studies. Jessica Lacher-Feldman is overseeing the exhibit project. Most of the materials for this exhibit are from the Wade Hall Collection of Southern History and Culture.

Dr. McElya will refer to the exhibit in her talk. This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Jessica Lacher-Feldman at or at 205.348.0500. This event is sponsored by UA Libraries, and in part by the generous support of Dr. Lakey and Susan Tolbert.

No comments: