The Eleventh Annual “Material Matters: It’s in the Details” conference takes place online on January 22, 2022. This conference is on material culture spanning 1609-1815.
This program will be offered on ZOOM and advance online registration will be required. The complete lineup of presentations and online registration will be set by November 1, 2021.
A Colonial Ceres: John Singleton Copley’s Mrs. Ezekiel Goldthwait—According to Roman mythology, the goddess Ceres affected life-sustaining transformations, albeit often beneath the soil and hidden from sight; under her jurisdiction, seeds decayed, germinated, and created a new life. This presentation proposes that Copley’s 1771 portrait of Mrs. Ezekiel Goldthwait, the wife of an elite New England merchant, depicts a sitter who has metamorphosed into a colonial Ceres, exuding visual characteristics of abundance, pastoralism, and cyclic continuity. A former high-school Latin teacher, Deborah Fisher recently received her Ph.D. in American Studies from Penn State University. She serves full-time in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard as a Logistics Officer.
Letters of a Canadian Woman: Material Culture and Identity in the Writings of Madame Bégon, 1748-1753—Sister, wife, mother, and aunt to a succession of French colonial military officers and civilian officials, Madame Bégon (1696-1755) of Montreal and later Rochefort is best known for the voluminous correspondence she maintained with her son-in-law in New Orleans between 1748 and 1753. Drawing from her trans-Atlantic letters and a cross-section of contemporary images and objects, this talk will address themes including self-fashioning, cross-cultural entanglement, and the struggle for empire in North America. Philippe Halbert is a Ph.D. candidate in the history of art at Yale University and the 2021-2022 Barra Dissertation Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s McNeil Center for Early American Studies.