Session 1 – Histories

Vincent Brown and Laurent Dubois & Mary Caton Lingold – in conversation with Jennifer Morgan – will present their respective digital history projects, Two Plantations: Enslaved Families in Virginia & Jamaica and Musical Passage: A Voyage to 1688 Jamaica. Brown’s site offers an extraordinary presentation of research concerning the experiences of more than 400 enslaved individuals in two plantations in the American South, and is an interactive complement to historian Richard S. Dunn’s A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia (Harvard UP, 2014). Dubois and Lingold’s site focuses on a single historical document: the transcription of three songs performed by Africans in in Jamaica in 1688. Considering the layers of meaning embedded in these musical traces, the project offers a recreated soundscape of the plantation Americas, a rich representation of late seventeenth-century Jamaican slave society, and an exploration of musical forms that are at the root of contemporary, global musical genres.


Multi-media historian Vincent Brown is Charles Warren Professor of History, Professor of African and African-American Studies, and Director of the History Design Studio at Harvard University.  His research, writing, teaching, and other creative endeavors are focused on the political dimensions of cultural practice in the African Diaspora, with a particular emphasis on the early modern Atlantic world.  A native of Southern California, he was educated at the University of California, San Diego, and received his PhD in History from Duke University, where he also trained in the theory and craft of film and video making.  He has been the recipient of the Mellon New Directions fellowship, John Simon Guggenheim fellowship, and the National Humanities Center fellowship in the United States. Brown is the author of numerous articles and reviews in scholarly journals, he is Principal Investigator and Curator for the animated thematic map Slave Revolt in Jamaica, 1760-1761: A Cartographic Narrative (2013), and he was Producer and Director of Research for the television documentary Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness (2009),recipient of the 2009 John E. O’Connor Film Award of the American Historical Association, awarded Best Documentary at both the 2009 Hollywood Black Film Festival and the 2009 Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival, and broadcast nationally on season 11 of the PBS series Independent Lens. His first book, The Reaper’s Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery (2008), was co-winner of the 2009 Merle Curti Award and received the 2009 James A. Rawley Prize and the 2008-09 Louis Gottschalk Prize.

Laurent Dubois is the Marcello Lotti Professor of Romance Studies and History and is the founder and Faculty Director of the Forum for Scholars & Publics at Duke University. From 2010 to 2013, he was the co-director of the Haiti Laboratory of the Franklin Humanities Institute. He is the author of five books, including Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution (2004) and A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804(2004), which won four book prizes including the Frederick Douglass Prize. He has also written about the politics of soccer, with Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France (2010) and is the founding editor of the Soccer Politics Blog. His most recent book is Haiti: The Aftershocks of History (2012). His book The Banjo: America’s African Instrument will be published by Harvard University Press in Spring 2016. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Humanities Fellowship, and a Mellon New Directions Fellowship to support this work, some of which is showcased on the Banjology website. His writings have appeared in The NationThe New YorkerSports IllustratedThe New Republic the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. He is active on twitter as @Soccerpolitics.

Mary Caton Lingold is a doctoral candidate in English at Duke University, where she is completing a dissertation on representations of early Afro-Atlantic musical life in literature (1650-1850). She is the co-editor of a web collection of digital projects entitled Provoke!: Digital Sound Studies and a print volume by the same name, which is forthcoming from Duke University Press. She is also the founder and director of the Sonic Dictionary, a growing database of audio recordings and exhibits created by undergraduates at Duke and collaborating institutions.

Jennifer L. Morgan is the author of Laboring Women: Gender and Reproduction in the Making of New World Slavery (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004). Her research examines the intersections of gender and race in colonial America. She is at work on a project that considers colonial numeracy, racism, and the rise of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the seventeenth-century English Atlantic, tentatively titled Accounting for the Women in Slavery. She is Professor of History in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis and the Department of History at New York University and is currently the Chair of the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis.