The VCU Department of English will host a lecture by Professor of English and Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Katherine Clay Bassard as a part of its English Faculty Forum lecture series. The lecture will take place Wednesday, April 19 (12:00 – 1 p.m.) in Hibbs 308.
All English Faculty Forum events are free and open to the public.
“A Scetch of My Own Life by Fields Cook:
Digitizing a Manuscript for a Virginia Ex-Slave”
Professor Bassard will present ground-breaking research on a very special archival document: A Scetch of My Own Life by Fields Cook, likely the only surviving manuscript written by a person while he/she was still enslaved.
Fields Cook was a prominent Richmond businessman who used his ingenuity to purchase his own freedom and that of two sons. After the Civil War, he became prominent in Virginia and national Reconstruction politics before moving to Alexandria and pastoring a church there.
With student researchers, Professor Bassard has produced and edited a digital version of Cook’s 1847 manuscript, forthcoming from British Virginia(wp.vcu.edu/britishvirginia/forthcoming/). Centering her presentation upon the significance of this unique narrative to the study of slave narratives, nineteenth-century African-American literature, and nineteenth-century literature and history more broadly, Professor Bassard will also briefly share some of her wisdom about the digitizing process itself.