Enduring Truths: Sojourner's Shadows And Substance

Hardcover | September 21, 2015

byDarcy Grimaldo Grigsby

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Runaway slave Sojourner Truth gained fame in the nineteenth century as an abolitionist, feminist, and orator and earned a living partly by selling photographic carte de visite portraits of herself at lectures and by mail. Cartes de visite, similar in format to calling cards, were relatively inexpensive collectibles that quickly became a new mode of mass communication. Despite being illiterate, Truth copyrighted her photographs in her name and added the caption “I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance. Sojourner Truth.”

Featuring the largest collection of Truth’s photographs ever published, Enduring Truths is the first book to explore how she used her image, the press, the postal service, and copyright laws to support her activism and herself. Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby establishes a range of important contexts for Truth’s portraits, including the strategic role of photography and copyright for an illiterate former slave; the shared politics of Truth’s cartes de visite and federal banknotes, which were both created to fund the Union cause; and the ways that photochemical limitations complicated the portrayal of different skin tones. Insightful and powerful, Enduring Truths shows how Truth made her photographic portrait worth money in order to end slavery—and also became the strategic author of her public self.

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From the Publisher

Runaway slave Sojourner Truth gained fame in the nineteenth century as an abolitionist, feminist, and orator and earned a living partly by selling photographic carte de visite portraits of herself at lectures and by mail. Cartes de visite, similar in format to calling cards, were relatively inexpensive collectibles that quickly became ...

Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby is professor of the history of art at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Extremities: Painting Empire in Post-Revolutionary France and Colossal: Engineering the Suez Canal, Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower and Panama Canal.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 8.5 × 11 × 0.9 inPublished:September 21, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022619213X

ISBN - 13:9780226192130

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Part I Early Cartes de Visite1 Truth in Indiana (1861)

2 Truth as Libyan Sibyl
3 Truth in Michigan (1863)
Part II Shadows and Substance
4 Truth’s Captioned Cartes de Visite (after 1864)
5 Shadows and Chemistry
Part III Texts and Circulating Paper
6 Truth’s Illiteracy
7 Truth’s Copyright
8 Money and the Civil War

Part IV Collecting and the Late Photographs

9 Album Politics
10 Truth’s Last Portraits (1881–82)
Notes
Index

 

Editorial Reviews

“Grigsby convincingly demonstrates how Truth’s shrewd engagement with the new medium of photography, in tandem with her deliberate efforts to secure legal and monetary control over her portraits, became a platform for the assertion of a former slave’s claims to personhood and self-possession. Enduring Truths is a fundamental contribution to our ongoing efforts to disentangle the historical bonds between visuality, subjectivity, and slavery, and the jarring processes of the institution’s demise.”