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[Zoom Service] From House Museum to Plantation Site: Rediscovering the Landscapes of Slavery

January 15, 2023 @ 10:15 AM 12:00 PM

Professor Susan Kern, Ph.D., Adjunct Associate Professor and Expert in Early America/US, in the Department of History at the College of William and Mary, will speak on the topic, From House Museum to Plantation Site: Rediscovering the Landscapes of Slavery.  The preservation of presidential home sites helped define the role of foundations and non-profits as the apparatus of historic preservation and an authoritative voice in the public history discussions about the founders, and now slavery.  One does not need to visit Monticello or Montpelier to have been affected by the historic preservation movement that ensured the status of these sites as museums and helped create a robust and increasingly democratized preservation movement in the 20th century.  These museums take on a similar role in their work on slavery and race that can help broaden and democratize our understanding of American racial slavery and how its very real legacies affect our social, cultural, and political landscape today.  These sites sponsored and field tested methods of architectural research, paint analysis, site-specific curatorial practice, and historical archaeology and challenge us to defend why the Founders are important in the public imagination about the American promise.

Susan Kern received her Ph.D. in History from William and Mary in 2005 and her masters in Architectural History from the University of Virginia in 1990.  In between she worked in the archaeology department at Monticello, including two years directing that research.  Her research interests include how the material world influences human behavior and interaction; she is as interested in plantation field work, factory floor plans, and tools, as she is in consumer goods and decorative arts.  She also studies how museums and historic sites make use of the recent and distant past.  Her courses include the Field School in Material Culture, Public History, History of Museums and Historic Preservation, Eighteenth Century Williamsburg, and the NIAHD Internship for Credit (www.wm.edu/as/niahd).  Her book The Jeffersons at Shadwell appeared from Yale University Press in 2010.

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