November 12, 2002 --
Janice Milner Lasseter, Professor of English at Samford University and member of the Alabama Humanities Foundation speakers bureau, presents "Duels, Feuds, Horse-Racing, Plantation Mistresses, Slavery, Iron Mills: Alabama Legends in a Nineteenth-Century Memoir," on November 12, 2002 at 2:00 PM at the Houston Cole Library.
The folklore of Alabama looms large in the memoir of Rebecca Harding Davis, a popular nineteenth century fiction writer whose early life was spent in Florence, Alabama. Her life story includes quirky anecdotes about family feuds, chivalric duels, encounters with Indians, slave uprisings, and plantation mistresses. She shows how and why the lives of plantation mistresses were quite different from the picturesque, idle lives their northern sisters imagined and envied. Her portrayal of the Civil War is a personal, un-romanticized vision of past national glories where heroes did arise but so did brutes, or a "class of soldiery who raged like wild beasts through the mountains of the border States." In addition to the Alabama legends in her autobiography, Davis also wrote stories about iron mills and slavery. Davis focuses her life
story and her fiction around the momentous cultural changes through which she lived from the 1830's to the early twentieth century, and her characters reveal the importance of individual endeavors in the shaping of any nation's history.
Janice Milner Lasseter is Professor of English at Samford University, where she was the Chair of the English Department from 1991-1999. She has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Alabama, with a specialization in nineteenth-century American Literature. Lasseter co-founded the Nathaniel Hawthorne Discussion Circle for the South-Atlantic Modern Language Association, and has published numerous essays on Hawthorne, Rebecca Harding Davis, and Hawthorne's legacy to Davis. She is the editor of the "Rebecca Harding Davis: page of the Society for the Study of American Women Writers website (www.unl.edu/legacy/legacy). Her book Rebecca Harding Davis: Writing Cultural Autobiography, was published by Vanderbilt University press in 2001.