In addition to several excellent student papers (there were thirty-five all told, from students at nine different schools), attendees also enjoyed a tour of Spelman’s Museum of Fine Art by Mora Beachamp-Byrd, visiting scholar of art and art history at Spelman.
The current exhibit, Black Chronicles II, explores the black presence in late nineteenth century Victorian Britain through studio portraiture, including some thirty portraits of The African Choir, which toured Britain between 1891 and 1893, and a selection of popular cartes-de-visite. (One of these made me smile: a Zulu warrior from “Farini’s Friendly Zulus.” “The Great Farini,” né William Leonard Hunt, hails from my hometown of Port Hope, Ontario. He first gained fame as a tightrope walker and later became an African explorer and entertainment promoter. Shane Peacock’s book about him has more detail.)
The keynote address, entitled “Women and Violence in the Grassroots Anti-Abortion Movement in the United States,” was delivered by Karissa Haugeberg of Tulane University. Based on her forthcoming book, it was a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of 1980s-era pro-life activism and the women who participated in it. (We’ve been conditioned to think of abortion opponents as men trying to keep women down, but according to Haugeberg women have always made up a majority of the movement, often for feminist reasons – widespread abortion, they believe, frees men from their responsibilities to the women they impregnate. This fundamental divide over the significance of the sexual revolution – is it empowering, or degrading? – is still not resolved, as one can see in the debate over hook-up culture on campus today.)
Reinhardt was represented by recent graduate Alex Bryant, whose paper “The New American Revolution: A Brief History of the Internet” sparked quite a bit of discussion afterwards.
This is the seventh PAT annual conference I’ve been to. It is always fun, and this one was one of the best.