Clear Starching in Louisiana

Women and Slavery: Agency and Constraint in the Slaveholding South

9:30am - 5:00pm / Saturday 19th January 2019
Type: Conference / Category: Department / Series: Centre for the Study of International Slavery
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This one-day conference explores the varied experiences of southern women in the nineteenth century slaveholding south. Key themes include Sex, Violence and Female Agency in the lives of enslaved and white women; and the memory of light-skinned enslaved women who spoke in the WPA narratives as ‘passing’ as white.

Another key theme will investigate Gender, Parenthood and Slavery in its varied forms, and it will examine the relationship between enslaved children and their ‘white’ slaveholding mistress, affective ties between free coloured women and enslaved men, and the parenting roles of the formerly enslaved as recalled in the WPA slave narratives. Stolen ‘Property’, Theft and Female Resistance to Slavery will be the final theme that interrogates female ‘resistance’ to slavery by probing the phenomenon of ‘slave stealing’ women, Black women’s creative resistance to slavery and also ‘Confederate’ women who formed part of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, to protect and preserve the memory and integrity of George Washington.

Professor Catherine Clinton will be the conference keynote speaker. Professor Clinton is the author of multiple works including The Plantation Mistress: Woman's World in the Old South; Mrs. Lincoln: A Life, Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom and Stepdaughters of History: Southern Women and the American Civil War. Confirmed speakers include Professor Susan-Mary Grant, Professor Emily West, Dr. Andrea Livesey, Dr. Shannon Eaves, Dr. Laura Sandy, Dr. Kristen Brill, Dr. Rosie Knight & Dr. Rebecca Fraser.

9.30-10.00 Registration Tea & Coffee
Welcome: Marie Molloy

10.00- 11.30: Sex, Violence and Female Agency in the Slaveholding South
Enslaved Women and Agency within the Confines of a Rape Culture in the Antebellum South. Shannon C. Eaves, College of Charleston.
Pli belle que métresse: The memory of light-skinned enslaved women in the Louisiana Writers’ Project. Andrea Livesey, Liverpool John Moores University.
‘Dutiful Wife’ or ‘Lewd Strumpet’? Interracial Sex and Divorce in the Slaveholding South. Marie Molloy, Manchester Metropolitan University
11.30-11.45: Tea & Coffee

11.45- 1.15: Gender, Parenthood and Slavery
‘We chilluns, long wid her, wuz lak de udder slaves’: Free Women of Colour within the Slave Regime in the Antebellum South. Emily West, University of Reading.
White Devils and White Mamas: Enslaved Children and Mistresses in the Slaveholding Household. Rosie Knight, University of Sheffield.
‘Daddy, We Hardly Knew You: The Long Memory of Gender, Power and Parenting in the WPA Narratives’. Susan-Mary Grant, Newcastle University.

1.15-2.00 Lunch

2.00-3.30: Stolen ‘Property’, Theft and Female Resistance to Slavery
Slave Stealing Women, Slave-Owning Women and Stolen Slaves in the American South. Laura Sandy, Liverpool University.
“The Darling Offspring of my Brain” (Harriet Powers): Black Women’s Artistic Responses to Racial Slavery in Nineteenth Century America. Rebecca Fraser, University of East Anglia.

'Confederate’ Women and the Theft of George Washington’s Body: Mount Vernon in the American Civil War. Kristen Brill, Keele University.
3.30-3.45: Tea & Coffee

3.45- 4.45: Keynote address, Catherine Clinton

4.45: Closing Comments

5.00: Drinks and Conference Dinner (Optional)

To register for the conference dinner please email