Lecture by Gabrielle Foreman: “Colored Conventions and the Long History of Black Activism: Digital Organizing and Collective Recovery”
Gabrielle Foreman is the Ned B. Allen Professor of English and Professor of History and Black American Studies at the University of Delaware. She has published extensively on issues of race, slavery and reform in the nineteenth century with a focus on the past's continuing hold on the world we inhabit today. She is the author of several widely known books and editions. In her Penguin edition of Our Nig: or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black by Harriet Wilson, known as the nation's first Black woman novelist, Foreman and her co-coeditor "managed to pick up one of the coldest trails in nineteenth-century African American studies." The radio tour that followed reached millions of listeners; lectures were "pick of the week" in cities such as Philadelphia and featured in articles such as the Boston Globe. A later collaboration with poets, choreographers and composers transformed Foreman's research into a performance piece that has been adopted in classrooms across the country and viewed by thousands online. Her 2013 state of the field essay about the growing popularity of race in the humanities as fewer African Americans are trained to be leaders in these field calls for deliberate attention to be paid to this ongoing trend by universities, leading repositories and professional organizations.
Foreman has been a Kellogg National Leadership Program fellow, a fellow at the National Humanities Center and the Huntington Library, among others. As a Ford Foundation Fellow, she provides mentorship for emerging and mid-career faculty of color across disciplines and institutions. She co-founded Action for Social Change and Youth Empowerment which provided in-depth training to cohorts of young people who then took seats on the Boards of Directors of leading and state-wide organizations whose work impacted youth and facilitated a culture of cooperation across organizational sectors, racial groups and immigrant statuses.
Foreman has a long-standing commitment to the intersection of digital technologies, race and public history. In the 1990s, she was part of a three person interdisciplinary that fully integrated digital technologies into first-year required courses at liberal arts colleges for the first time. Foreman is the founding faculty director of the Colored Conventions Project, which since 2012 has made digitally available six decades of Black political organizing that overlapped with and was obscured by the abolitionist movement. The project has involved over 1000 students across the country in undergraduate research through its curriculum adopted by the Project's national teaching partners while launching a transcription project recognized alongside those by the British Library and the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Foreman has been recognized for her teaching, advising and scholarship, winning college-wide awards for distinguished teaching and scholarship. She is currently completing The Art of DisMemory: Historicizing Slavery in Poetry, Performance and Material Culture and a co-edited volume (with her graduate students), Colored Conventions in the Nineteenth-Century and the Digital Age, linked to digital exhibits for the public, which will be featured on www.ColoredConventions.org.