How did African Americans survive the period between 1890 and 1930 when mobs lynched members of their communities and proudly circulated pictures of the mutilated corpses? How did African Americans maintain a dignified sense of self when photographs of lynch victims entered their homes along with the news? In her book, Living with Lynching: African American Lynching Plays, Performance, and Citizenship, 1890-1930, Koritha Mitchell tells the story of black authors who wrote plays about lynching, in the 1910s and 1920s, and provided their communities with scripts that affirmed their self-conceptions and encouraged them to mourn their losses.
Mitchell will discuss and sign “Living with Lynching” (University of Illinois Press, 2011) on Friday, March 14, at noon in the Mary Pickford Theater, located on the third floor of the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. This program, presented by the Library’s Humanities and Social Sciences Division, is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.
Mitchell explores the ways in which the lynching plays and performances helped the African-American community survive the height of mob violence, and its photographic representation, still believing in its members’ rights to full citizenship.
A literary historian and cultural critic, Mitchell is also an associate professor of English at the Ohio State University, where her research centers on African-American literature, racial violence in U.S. literature and contemporary culture, and black drama and performance. She examines how written and performed texts have helped terrorized families and communities survive and thrive.
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