F20 Black Atlantic: Resources, Pedagogy, and Scholarship on the 18th Century Black Atlantic

"A Picture Is Worth A Thousand FACTs!":  (Re)Fashioning History through Photographs and Fiction

"A Picture Is Worth A Thousand FACTs!":  (Re)Fashioning History through Photographs and Fiction 

Week 5

The famous saying is this: A picture is worth a thousand words. It is the task of this reflection to demonstrate how pictures, actual and literary imagery, help convey history through our readings. In short, I hope to discuss how photographs as historical evidence and social witness. 

This week's reading has called attention to archival violence of silence imposed upon the bodies, lives, and memories of women of African descent. Yes, silence and the silencing process are violent, and the historical erasure has caused feminist thinkers to reconsider themselves in the archives and new ways to articulate their existence in the modern world. This week's readings center upon Black women's lives and roles in global history narratives and public memories. This places a new position in the power of storytelling as a means of articulating history. 

What both Siobhan Mei and Saidiya Hartman have done is the required reading is provided a "feminist translation praxis" that has centered how telling stories through and with objects re-present women's roles in history. The value of storytelling or narrative is not merely entertainment but also a historical and educational tool for re-discovery of identity, culture, and history. The practice of Narrative functions to allow traditionally marginalized and disempowered groups, such as women and people of color, to reclaim their voices (Amoah 85). 

In her essay, Feminist Translation Matters: Reading Fashion Materiality and Revolution in the English Language Translations of Marie Chauvet's La Danse sur volcan", Mei turns to fiction and its usage in history. Specifically, she offers a close reading of Marie Chauvet's La Danse Sur volcano to understand better how Chauvet's novel provides an understanding of womanhood, femininity, beauty, and played an in the formation of modernity, but also how fictional re-telling of Haitian Revolution and the role women played in the revolution.  

This teaches a valuable lesson and offers a philosophy of fiction as a historical method and social witness, understanding that the writing of novel does not happen in a vacuum. 

Here are other stories that to such work that would go great in a lesson plan concerning Africana women's fiction as a historical archive. 

Secondary Sources

Aldrich, Jr., Nelson W. Old Money: The Mythology of Wealth in America. Allworth Press, 1997. 

[Eribon, Didier. Returning to Reims. Semiotext(e), 2013.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Dust Tracks on a Road: An Autobiography. Harper Perennial, 2006. 

Rodriguez, Richard. Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez: An Autobiography. Dial Press Trade Paperback, 2004.

Rolph-Trouillat, Michel. Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. Beacon Press, 1997. ISBN: 9780807043110.

Terkel, Studs. Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession. The New Press, 2012. ISBN: 9781595588104.

Walley, Christine J. Exit Zero: Family and Class in Postindustrial Chicago. University of Chicago Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780226871806. 


Question: How can images and fiction serve as a method of reinterpreting modernity and history? 

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