The Elizabeth Keckley Reader, Volume 2

The Elizabeth Keckley Reader, Volume 2

by Sheila Smith McKoy


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The Elizabeth Keckley Reader: Volume Two--Artistry, Culture & Commerce--edited by Sheila Smith McKoy, expands on the Elizabeth Keckley Reader series inspired by the remarkable life of Elizabeth Keckley. A slave in Hillsborough, NC, Keckley went on to buy her freedom. She became a noted seamstress in Civil War-era Washington, DC, and was most famously the confidante of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln. Volume Two explores Keckley as an independent businesswoman, acclaimed dress designer, and craftswoman. She achieved critical success within a few years of buying her freedom and went on to design and make couture for some of the nation's most prominent women, including Mrs. Jefferson Davis, as well as Mary Todd Lincoln. Volume Two features scholarly works on Keckley, her short-lived commercial success, her aesthetic, and her contributions to American fashion design, as well as the visual nature of her writing in her narrative, Behind the Scenes (published in 1868). Keckley’s skills, sense of design, and determination help her rise from slavery to become a successful black entrepreneur and community leader in Washington, DC. Includes photographs.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780997314441
Publisher: John F Blair, Publisher
Publication date: 05/17/2017
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Dr. Sheila Smith McKoy is the Editor of the Elizabeth Keckley Reader series. She is chair of English at Kinnesaw State University. A poet, literary critic, and fiction writer, she has published in numerous publications including the critically acclaimed Schomburg series African American Women Writers 1910-1940, Callaloo, Contours, Journal of Ethnic American Literature, Obsidian, and Valley Voices. Her book, When Whites Riot received critical attention internationally. She has recently completed a book of poetry. As a poet, prosist and critic, she has worked extensively in the fields of African, African American, Afro-Caribbean, and other African-descent literatures.

Table of Contents

Introduction: When Genius Meets Spirit: Artistry, Culture & Commerce Dr. Sheila Smith McKoy xi


1 Elizabeth Keckley's Behind the Scenes: or the "Colored Historian's" Resistance to the Technologies of Power in Postwar America Carme Manuel 1

2 Unmasking the Genteel Performer: Elizabeth Keckley's Behind the Scenes and the Politics of Public Wrath Carolyn Sorisio 21

3 Freedom and Ballgowns: Elizabeth Keckley and the Work of Domesticity Katherine Adams 71

4 Behind the Scenes of Black Labor: Elizabeth Keckley and the Scandal of Publicity Xiomara Santamarina 113

5 "Making Good Use of Our Eyes": Nineteenth-Century African Americans Write Visual Culture Sarah Blackwood 141

6 Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years a Fairy Godmother: Dress-Making as Self-Making in Elizabeth Keckley's Autobiography Steve Criniti 167

7 Exposing Mary Lincoln: Elizabeth Keckley and the Rhetroic of Intimate Disclosure Lisa Shawn Hogan 187


8 A scene from "Mary T. and Lizzy K." Tazewell Thompson 217

9 Scenes from "Behind the Scenes" Maureen Quilligan Michael Malone 225


10 "a feast of whispers" Jaki Shelton Green 233

11 "Posthumous" Zelda Lockhart 236

12 "what is it i hide from myself" Gideon Young 241

13 "Woman of the Cloth" J. L. Teresa Church 242

14 "The Modiste in Séance For the Spiritualist in Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley" Melvin E. Lewis 243

15 "Needlework and Names" Diane Judge 245

16 "Dear Elizabeth Keckley" Lenard D. Moore 246

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley Timeline 247

Further Reading 251

About the Editor 255

About the Contributors 257

Permissions & Acknowledgments 261

Index 263

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