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16 February 2017

Rising Above - African American History and Culture Lecture Series:
The Promise and Imperialism of Free Trade: China and the “Long Arm of Commerce” in Frederick Douglass’s Life and Times (1882)

Dr Kendall Johnson
School of Modern Languages and Cultures, HKU

Location: Fung Ping Shan Building, University Museum and Art Gallery, HKU
Date: 16 Feb 2016 (Thu)
Time: 6:30 pm

click to see poster

Abstract
The essay considers Douglass's struggle for authorship, beginning from his Narrative of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845) through My Bondage, Me Freedom (1855), and finally to Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881). The struggle begins as a fugitive slave with the challenge of securing ownership of the labor required in representing one's experiences for publication while avoiding bounty hunters. It continues with the international scene that enables him to write My Bondage and My Freedom. Life and Times of Frederick Douglass is both an end point in his quest for civic enfranchisement and a new beginning to complicated challenges of owning one's story in a globally economy of print publication after the failure of Reconstruction.

Bio
Dr. Johnson researches and teaches American literature and studies, colonial through early‐twentieth centuries. His forthcoming book The New Middle Kingdom: China in the Early American Romance of Free Trade (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017) explores the literary historical legacy of US merchants, missionaries, and diplomats who ventured to China before the Civil War (1861-1865). He is the contributing editor of Narratives of Free Trade: The Commercial Cultures of Early US-China Relations (Hong Kong University Press, 2012) and the author of Henry James and the Visual (Cambridge University Press in 2007; 2011).

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