Conference Commemorates Works of Frederick Douglass
A one day conference at St. John Fisher College will commemorate the life and work of American abolitionist, Frederick Douglass. Timed to celebrate his 200th birthday, the conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14, in the Golisano Gateway Midlevel.
The event, which includes seven hour-long discussions on Douglass’s life and legacy, is part of the Fisher Reads program. Founded in 2012, Fisher Reads is a collaboration among faculty members to create interdisciplinary engagement through the shared reading of classic texts. In the last five years, the program has explored Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery, St. Thomas More’s Utopia, Robert Louis Stevenson’s horror classic, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and most recently, the writings of Henry David Thoreau.
Fisher Reads faculty selected the works of Douglass, specifically his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, to celebrate his birthday and explore the many connections he has to the Rochester region. Douglass lived in Rochester for many years, publishing his abolitionist newspaper, the North Star, and joining the work of the women’s rights movement.
Lavery Library houses several rare photographs of Douglass, who some have regarded as one of the most photographed people of the 19th Century. The Library also holds some of the only surviving issues of the North Star.
“Douglass had many connections to Rochester, and in fact moved here because of its reputation; at the time, there were fascinating social movements happening here,” said Dr. Tim Madigan, a professor of philosophy and one of the conference’s organizers.
In addition to discussing his time in Rochester, the conference will also explore his legacy as it relates to contemporary issues, including racial justice and human rights campaigns. “I think if he were alive today he’d be in the thick of contemporary controversies,” Madigan said.
Conference sessions include:
9:05 to 10 a.m.
Slavery and the Economics of Property
Clair Smith, chair and associate professor of economics; Tim Madigan, chair and associate professor of philosophy
10:10 to 11:05 a.m.
The Business of Slavery
Linda MacCammon, director of the ethics minor program and associate professor of religious studies; Ronald Sicker, visiting instructor of management
11:15 a.m. to 12:10 p.m.
Douglass in Ireland and Douglass in Rochester
Tim Madigan, chair and associate professor of philosophy and chair of the Irish studies committee; Carolyn Vacca, Monroe County historian, chair and associate professor of history
12:20 to 1:15 p.m.
Justice in America
Robert Ruehl, visiting professor of philosophy; Jane Snyder, adjunct professor of political science and philosophy
1:25 to 2:20 p.m.
Human Rights Today: Continuing Douglass’s Legacy
Linda MacCammon, director of the ethics minor program and associate professor of religious studies; Robert Ruehl, visiting professor of philosophy
2:30 to 3:25 p.m.
Douglass and Du Bois on Double Consciousness
Jane Snyder, adjunct professor of political science and philosophy
3:30 to 4:25 p.m.
Douglass and St. John Fisher College (cake will be served at the end)
Michelle Price, science and outreach librarian and special collections, Lavery Library; Dr. Arlette Miller Smith, associate professor of English and program director, African American Studies
The conference is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the Department of Economics, Ethics Minor Program, Lavery Library, Department of Philosophy, Department of Religious Studies, Visual and Performing Arts Program, and Fisher Reads, a group of faculty members who promote reading on campus.
For more information, email Dr. Tim Madigan at firstname.lastname@example.org.