The keynote lecture takes place on Thursday, April 20, at 6:00 pm in the atrium of the National Humanities Center. The event is free and open to the public, though registration is required on the NHC’s website.

Making Negro Literature: Literary Workspaces at the Margins of Print Culture
Dr. Elizabeth McHenry

As a part of an effort to chronicle African American literary culture at the turn from the nineteenth to the twentieth century, this talk focuses on African American bibliographies, which emerged as experimental knowledge structures that provided ways of mapping and making sense of an emerging and rapidly evolving cannon of “Negro literature.” They were, Professor McHenry argues, not just “lists,” but exploratory documents, where black intellectuals thought critically and advanced arguments about the boundaries and contours of black literature and authorship. Despite their seeming authority, bibliographies also make visible the instability of African American literature at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Elizabeth McHenry is an Associate Professor of English at New York University. Dr. McHenry focuses on African-American literature, culture, and intellectual history in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As a literary historian, her work is committed to using archival materials to map those invisible or overlooked aspects of African American print culture and intellectual history. She is the author of Forgotten Readers: Recovering the Lost History of African American Literary Societies (2002), which chronicles the reading practices and organized literary associations of African Americans between 1830 and 1940. She is currently completing a book length manuscript entitled “Making Negro Literature: Writing, Literary Practice, and African American Authorship, 1895-1910,” a project that seeks to make visible how literature was envisioned and practiced in the transitional years between two centuries.