The Mysteries of Criticism in Antebellum America's Sensationalistic Pop Culture

In the 1850s, urban mystery novels explored the sensationalistic imagination of immigrants, aristocrats, and the poor that emerged from mass urbanization in sprawling cities such as Paris, London, and New York. Mixing mystery, vice, myth, and experience into one lurid and melodramatic extravaganza, these novels commented politically, socially, and culturally. Baron Ludwig von Reizenstein’s The Mysteries of New Orleans creates a unique vision of immigrant perspective that challenges and problematizes current understandings of the antebellum American social ethos. Through extensive archival research and cultural absorption in the subject city of New Orleans, Louisiana, Meaghan seeks to explore the intricate relations between race, immigration, and crime, asking: what does this novel reveal about the antebellum social ideology, especially the maintenance of a social hierarchy by way of race and criminalization?

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Across Three Oceans: Shipwrecks as Early Moden Globalism

Objects in museums are typically categorized by chronology and geography and then further sorted into subcategories revolving around cultures, languages, and materials. Born of the legacies of imperialism and colonialism, these practices tend towards a flattening of categories and the fixing of objects into rigid structures of European and Other. But what do we do with an object that inhabits multiple chronologies, geographies, and cultures? Art objects and artifacts possess a fluidity and mobility throughout multiple categories, often occupying multiple positions and materialities simultaneously. Using Byron Hamann’s methodology of materialities of seeing, and Eva Hoffman’s pathways of portability, Ramn will consider the carved-ivory box recovered from a 17th century shipwreck of the Spanish galleon Nuestra Seora de Atocha as it emblematizes early modern global flows of materials, people and ideas.

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