NAMES YOU'VE NEVER HEARD

[DELETED] FIGURES FROM THE ANNALS OF HISTORY

We all want to be remembered after we’re gone, but few of us manage the kinds of achievements that might make our names stick out in the historical record. For some, however, it’s not the lack of achievements that are the problem. History is full of forgotten figures who profoundly shaped the world around them, but whose memory has faded - or been actively [removed] by those who came after. This panel explores how politics, gender and race have shaped the historical record, and helped determine whose names we now remember.

MODERATOR

NICOLAS HUET (/u/FrenchMurazor)

PANEL MODERATOR

NICOLAS HUET (HE/HIM) is the archivist of Emmaüs International. He has a master’s degree in medieval history from the Université de Lille. His research explores the political and military turmoil in France during the fourteenth-fifteenth century through the lens of financial records, administrative documents, letters and contemporary chronicles. He is especially interested in the Burgundian party during the early fifteenth century civil war, the alliance between Burgundy and England, and the uneasy collaboration it led to. Nicolas’s master thesis focal point was the joint military expedition led by Henry V and Philipp the Good and the numerous incidents and frictions which happened between their troops. He is also an AskHistorian flaired user.

SPEAKERS AND PAPERS

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JESSICA HARBORNE (/u/Arenariaa)

HOW SILENCES ARE WRITTEN INTO HISTORY, AND HOW OR WHETHER THEY SHOULD BE WRITTEN OUT OF IT: THE CASE OF KATHERINE READ

For art historians, the name ‘Joshua Reynolds’ immediately calls to mind one of the major European painters of the 18th century. Not so long ago, however, some of the paintings attributed to him were discovered to instead be by his contemporary, Katherine Read. Clearly a highly talented artist of the time, we must ask, why then has her name descended into obscurity? Read, a Scottish exile, spinster, and one of few early modern female pastellists, died alone in 1778 on a return journey from India. It was at this point that her colorful life of travel, fame and courtly extravagance was transformed into a tale of loss. During her later years, she had already begun to be side-lined from the portraiture scene; with one London courant critic declaring, ‘Stand aside, Miss Read’. After her death, this erasure from the world of art, and that more generally, became essentially absolute. She was only mentioned twice in writing until an article about her appeared in 1905. Her once frequent and lengthy correspondence is now also presumed lost or destroyed. The story of these letters, which form the remaining traces of her voice, reveal the gendered element to her silencing. As a woman, Read, unlike her male relatives, was unable to be employed in formal service to the state. Her correspondence, therefore, was retained by her family and not handed over to the national archives. Dying unmarried and without children, it consequently passed to more distant relatives, whose interest in preserving her memory came to dictate its preservation or deletion. For reconstructing her legacy, this writing must thus be returned to in a way that appreciates silence, rather than pasting over it, as it forms an important part of her legacy, which is made up of loss as much as it is life.

 

JESS HARBORNE (SHE/HER) is an undergraduate student reading history at Magdalen College, University of Oxford. Currently, she is researching for her thesis, upon which this abstract is based, which seeks to investigate how silence can impact upon the legacy of marginalized early modern individuals. Her research is centered around written forms from 17 th and 18 th century Britain and Europe, particularly looking at how absence can be used to reconstruct alternative narratives to those generated from writing itself.

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ANDREW KENRICK (/u/littlestkobold)

ROME’S AFRICAN KING: JUBA II OF MAURETANIA (52 BC-AD 23)

The Berber prince Juba II was one of a handful of foreign children raised in the Roman emperor Augustus’ household in the early 1st Century BC, before being instated as king of Mauretania to rule on Rome’s behalf in 25 BC. His legacy was not of tyranny but of scholarship. Juba became a famed antiquarian, travel writer and explorer; he discovered the Canary Islands and searched for the source of the Nile, wrote histories of Arabia and Libya, and led diplomatic missions on behalf of Rome to its neighbours. He ruled alongside his wife Cleopatra Selene (40 BC-6 BC), the daughter of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, also raised in Augustus’ household after the death of her parents.

 

The 1st Century BC is the best-known era of Roman history, in part because the work of its own historians has survived, which makes it all the more surprising that two such prominent members of Imperial Rome’s elite have not received the attention they deserve. In part, perhaps, this is because their ethnicity does not fit with modern perceptions of Rome, which continues to be seen as essentially white, and in part because the kingdoms that bordered the Roman empire are often dismissed as provincial backwaters.

 

n this paper I will use evidence from Juba II’s own art collection to show that he was not the ruler of some far-flung barbarian outpost, but head of a thriving colony of Roman culture in North Africa.

ANDREW KENRICK (HE/HIM) is a doctoral candidate at the University of East Anglia, in Norfolk, England. His research seeks to find new ways to write biographies of ancient characters. He is currently writing about the 1st Century Roman client-king Juba II of Mauretania. He has worked as an archaeologist, an archivist and an editor. He is also co-editor of the nonfiction magazine Hinterland.

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DANIELLE VAN WAGNER (/u/DanielleTheArchivist)

A TALE OF TWO SUZANNES: REDISCOVERING A TWENTIETH-CENTURY BOOKBINDER

As an archivist at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, I often have occasion to search through some of our lesser-known collections. Recently this included the fonds of Canadian bookbinder, Douglas Duncan, who worked in Paris in the 1920s. Tucked away with his papers was a small envelope labelled “Mlle Roussy’s endpapers.” Inside were thirty-six hand-painted art samples intended for the inside covers of specialty, high-end printed books, each embossed with “Atelier d’Art Suzanne Roussy 38 Quai Henri IV PARIS.” This was an exciting find as the decorative arts, especially within the field of bookmaking, is an arena where the work of women often goes unaccredited.

 

Published academic sources identify the artist as the Franco-Caribbean writer and philosopher, Suzanne Roussy Césaire (1915-1963), who supported herself as a bookbinder in Paris prior to her marriage in 1937. The Museum of the City of Paris, the only institutional holding for a book designed by Roussy, confirms this identification. Yet, an in-depth analysis of Parisian newspapers and art journals shows that a Suzanne Roussy steadily exhibited book bindings, end paper designs, wallpapers and decorative cushions beginning in 1919 up until 1935, even though Suzzane Roussy Césaire was born in 1915 and lived in Martinique until 1934. Two accomplished women - vastly different in occupation, class and race – who happened to share the same name, have been merged by scholars and museum professionals, and as a result one of these women has been completely erased from history. This presentation will provide, for the first time, the biography of Suzanne Victoria Roussy (1895-1958), identify her work, and place her within the largely male-driven world of high-end book production occurring in Paris in the 1920s and 30s.

 

DANIELLE VAN WAGNER (SHE/HER) is a Special Collections Librarian and Archivist at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto. She holds a BA in European Studies and an MA in Art and Visual Culture from the University of Guelph and a Master of Information in Archives and Records Management from the University of Toronto. Her research interests include the archives of ordinary people in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, women in war and underacknowledged female artists.