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Black Literature and the Business of Printing

Years before he became the editor of The Crisis, the official publication of the NAACP, W. E. B. Du Bois used all of his savings to purchase a small printing business in Memphis, Tennessee. The second lecture of this series looks closely at this business, the Ed. L. Simon & Co., Printers. What drove Du Bois to establish the business and his experiments with the possibilities of print make visible the importance of studying the work of local Black printers and the products of Black printing businesses, to better understanding the audiences for Black print and the forms and formats of Black literary production.

Registration is required. There are 106 in-person seats available. There are 174 online seats available.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024
5:30pm - 7:15pm
Kislak Center Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion, 6th Floor
Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center
Kislak, Lecture
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In this series of three lectures, Elizabeth McHenry turns her attention to several overlapping areas of Black print culture studies that have yet to be sufficiently explored: the business of printing, the history of Black printers, and the extension of African American literary and print culture. She is particularly attentive to the capacity of small printing offices to experiment with different print formats and the impact of the rapid rise in printing as a course of study at Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the South around the turn from the 19th to the 20th century. Scholars of African American literature have largely overlooked the products of student-run printing offices and small job printing businesses during this time, which included single-sheet publications, leaflets and pamphlets. These textual objects confound bibliographic interpretation, and the story of their production, distribution and use will be difficult to tell. But it is critical to our efforts to expand our knowledge of African American literary history and in particular, our understanding of literary and print cultures of the Black South.  

Event Organizer

Lynne Farrington