CNY Humanities Corridor Visiting Scholars Brownbag Presentation

Jenn ThomasJenn Thomas (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
“Researching Nineteenth-Century Insane Asylum Landscapes of New York State”
Brownbag Presentation: September 5, 2014 / Noon / Tolley 304 / SU Humanities Center

Between 1843 and 1890 New York built state run insane asylums in Utica, Ovid, Binghamton, Poughkeepsie, Middletown, Buffalo, and Ogdensburg.  With the passage of the New York State Care Act of 1890, six more local asylums were brought into the state institutional fold, bringing the total to thirteen.  Most asylums required large amounts of acreage to treat hundreds of patients.  Land to farm, access to natural resources and picturesque settings were considered essential for treating the mentally unwell.  Moral treatment, the Quaker inspired psychiatric practice of the age, combined spiritual guidance, behavior modification, and labor activities to administer patient healing.  Regimented daily routines aimed to adjust mind, body and spirit back to a reasoned state.  Male patients cultivated crops, tended livestock, and constructed formal gardens, grounds and buildings.  Domestic tasks, like cleaning, sewing and laundry were done by women.  Patients participated in a variety of recreational activities including supervised strolls, carriage rides, theatrical performances, and sporting events.  Although asylum histories often focus on specific doctors, treatments, or exceptional circumstances, this project emphasizes how landscape-related activities reinforced expected normative behaviors, reflected contemporaneous landscape theories, as well as paralleled social and state concerns related to mental illness, gender, class, and race in New York.

Jenn Thomas is landscape architecture PhD candidate in the history/theory track at the University of Illinois at Urbana‐Champaign and was a 2013‐2014 graduate fellow at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from the University of Oregon and a Master of Landscape Architecture with a certificate in Historic Preservation from the University of Colorado Denver. Her master’s thesis (2009)—The Education of Jane Silverstein Ries at the Lowthorpe School of Landscape Architecture for Women, Groton, MA, 1928‐1932—explored gendered pedagogy in professional training of women landscape architects through Ries’s schoolwork.

CNY Humanities Corridor Visiting Scholars Brownbag Presentation

Richard Bell“The Blackest Market: Kidnapping, Slavery and Salvation”
Richard Bell (University of Maryland)

Brownbag Presentation: August 29, 2014 / Noon / Tolley 304 / SU Humanities Center

Long before Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) fixed the depiction of man-stealers in the American imagination, there was Patty Cannon (c. 1760-1829). A kidnapper, enslaver, and slave trader of unprecedented audacity and ambition, this Delaware woman died by her own hand in prison in 1829. Concluded decades before the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 brought the abduction of free black men and women to national attention, her repellent career offers a rare glimpse of slavery’s darkest secret: a black market underworld in which legally free people were kidnapped and traded as slaves; a reverse underground railroad of infamous repute in its day that has since been largely forgotten.

Situated at that pivotal moment during which sectional identities began to harden and racial and class politics came to consume the American imagination, Patty Cannon’s story provides a new means to probe some of the major themes in early national and antebellum historiography. Bridging the historiographical and geographic divide between North and South, Cannon’s repugnant exploits connect the rise of the market not only to organized antislavery activism, but also to the spread of industrial agriculture, western expansion, and the democratization of print culture. Hers is a story with national implications.

Richard Bell is Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland, College Park. He received his PhD from Harvard University and his BA from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of We Shall Be No More: Suicide and Self-Government in the Newly United States (2012) and the co-editor of Buried Lives: Incarcerated in Early America (2012). He is currently at work upon a new book-length micro-history titled “The Blackest Market: Kidnapping, Slavery and Salvation.”

Slavery and Abolition, History of the Book, and Religion in African American History

Undergraduate students
Undergraduate Research Conference
April 14-17, 2014 / See Schedule Below / Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, Bird Library, 1st Floor

Please join us for this week-long conference featuring student research in the holdings of the Special Collections Research Center.

Students from Professor Joan Bryant’s courses Religion in African American History and Slavery and Abolition alongside students from Professor Patricia Roylance’s course History of the Book have spent the semester immersed in special collections, conducting individual research projects on items they have discovered in our holdings. Marking the culmination of a semester of intensive work, this conference offers students the opportunity to present their research in a public forum.

The conference is open to the public. Refreshments generously provided by the College of Arts and Sciences.

Conference Schedule

April 14
12:45-2:05 Slavery and Abolition
2:15-3:35 Slavery and Abolition

April 15
11:00am-12:30 History of the Book

April 16
12:45-2:05 Slavery and Abolition
2:15-3:35 Religion in African American History

April 17
11:00am-12:30 History of the Book

For more information contact Lucy Mulroney, Curator of Special Collections,

Architecture, Hip Hop, and Utopia

Lawrence ChuaCNY Humanities Corridor Visiting Scholars Brownbag Presentation
Lawrence Chua (Hamilton College)
Brownbag Presentation: April 3, 2014 / Noon / Tolley 304 / SU Humanities Center

In 1972, Charles Jencks declared “the death of modernism” with the demolition of Minoru Yamasaki’s Pruitt-Igoe housing project (St. Louis, 1952-1955). The “vandalized, mutilated, and defaced” projects represented, for Jencks, the ways modernism’s utopian vision had gone astray and become paradigmatic of techno-bureaucratic corporate authority and efficiency. This project argues that, far from being dead, the struggle between modernism’s utopian dream and its co-optation was re-imagined by the inhabitants of American urban housing in the visual and aural culture of hip hop. Drawing on written, visual, and aural archival material, this project examines the ways that hip hop has re-framed modernism and investigates the ways that architecture is mediated, overwritten, and redeployed by its users. It brings a discussion of race to historical analyses of architecture’s engagement with mass culture as it was transformed by consumer capitalism in the United States during the 20th century.

Lawrence Chua is a historian of the modern built environment whose research focuses on 19th and 20th century architecture and urban development. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Asian Studies housed in the Department of Art History at Hamilton College. He received his PhD in the History of Architecture and Urbanism Program at Cornell University in 2012. He is the recipient of the Social Science Research Council’s International Dissertation Research Fund and was a Mellon Graduate Fellow at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University.

Critical Connections lecture by RBS Director Michael Suarez

Michael SuarezMichael Suarez, director of Rare Book School will present ‘Industry Need Not Wish’: Benjamin Franklin’s The Way to Wealth as a Publishing Phenomenon on March 27 at 5 p.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons on the first floor of Bird Library. His talk is part of the Critical Connections Lecture Series organized by the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) at Syracuse University Libraries.

This illustrated lecture will explain how Franklin’s essay on industry and thrift, begun as an article in an almanac, became a publishing sensation, one of the most frequently reprinted works in America and Europe for more than a century. Examining The Way to Wealth in a variety of cultural and publishing contexts, Suarez explains how and why it went viral, becoming Franklin’s most popular work and a best-seller in America, England, France, and Germany.

Michael F. Suarez, S.J. is Director of Rare Book School, Professor of English, University Professor, and Honorary Curator of Special Collections at the University of Virginia. A Jesuit priest, he holds four masters degrees (two each in English and theology) and a D.Phil. in English from Oxford.

Suarez will also present a companion mini-seminar on March 28 from 10 a.m. to noon in the Special Collections Research Center on the sixth floor of Bird Library. The mini‐seminar is free and open to the public, however advance registration is required. To register, contact Barbara Brooker at or at 315‐443‐9763.