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Reading series considers race relations

September 5, 2017

KOKOMO, Ind. — What can the words of 19th century slaves teach about race relations in 21st century America?

Rachel Blumenthal

Rachel Blumenthal

Members of the Kokomo community will consider those words in the context of current events, and discuss their ideas in a reading and conversation series, Thirteenth: Literature and Legacy, hosted by Indiana University Kokomo.

“It’s a very timely topic,” said Rachel Blumenthal, assistant professor of English, who planned the series. “We’re interested in movements like Black Lives Matter, and the recent events in Charlottesville, and other things going on right now, and the way this country is framing discussions around race. This is one historical and literary piece of that discussion.”

A viewing of Ava DuVernay’s 13th  moved Blumenthal to plan the series. 

“I was very inspired by the documentary, and thought about how we could merge literature, history, law and film to think about race in our country, and in Indiana,” she said.

The series kicks off at 6 p.m. Wednesday, September 14, at Bind Café and Beyond Barcodes Bookstore, 108 N. Main St., Kokomo. Stephanie Li, IU professor of English, will lead discussion of Narrative of the Life, published in 1845 by escaped slave and abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass.

The second discussion is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, October 3, in the Kelley Student Center, Room 130. Venetria Patton, Purdue professor of English and African American Studies, will lead a conversation about Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, published in 1861 by Harriet Jacobs.

The third is at 6 p.m. Wednesday, October 25 at Bind Café, with Gregory Laski, assistant professor of English at the U.S. Air Force Academy, discussing Sutton Griggs’ 1899 novel Imperium in Imperio. The book imagines a revolution in which African Americans create their own country within a country.

The series culminates with a screening of 13th at 4 p.m. Thursday, November 30, in IU Kokomo’s Kresge Auditorium, followed by dialogue led by Timothy Lake, associate professor of English at Wabash College.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Blumenthal at rablumen@iu.edu.

The series is funded with an Indiana Humanities grant, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 09/05/2017