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“Writing with Scissors” lecture examines history recorded in scrapbooks

We’re pleased to announce an upcoming lecture from the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture. The lecture is scheduled for October 1, 1:30-2:30 p.m., in the School of Library & Information Studies Commons in Helen C. White Hall.

Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance by Ellen Gruber Garvey (Oxford University Press 2012).

Writing with Scissors: Nineteenth-Century African American Newspaper Clipping Scrapbooks is presented by Ellen Gruber Garvey, a professor in the Department of English at New Jersey City University.

Late nineteenth century African American readers spoke back to the hostile white press with its own materials. Like many other Americans — presidents and janitors, farmwomen and suffragists — African Americans made scrapbooks from the newspapers they read.

While black writers critiqued the white press, black scrapbook makers engaged in a sustained examination and reuse of the white press, often using it against itself. Some created massive collections of scrapbooks numbering hundreds of volumes. Their scrapbooks preserved news of black accomplishments, compared the treatments of black lynching victims with the leniency accorded whites accused of the same crimes, or saved incidents of black people fighting back. Gleaning the press, they created what one black journalist called “unwritten histories.”

This talk is drawn from Dr. Garvey’s book, Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance (Oxford University Press 2012), which reveals the interactive relationship people have had with the media since long before the Internet era.


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