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Charleston Writers & Eudora Welty Society Conference

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | February 20, 2019 | No Comment |

Four acclaimed interpreters of Charleston will reflect on their beginnings as writers Thursday, Feb 21, 5:30 PM in Stern Center Ballroom. Marcus Amaker, Harlan Greene, Josephine Humphreys, and Michele Moore will present their reflections. Moderated by Julia Eichelberger. Booksigning and reception to follow.

This is part of a 3-day conference sponsored by the Eudora Welty Society and the Department of English, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Southern Studies. There are 12 academic panels, and on one of them, two Southern Studies minors  (Stella Rounsefell, ENCW, Mary Scott Gilbert, HIST) will present on their research on Welty’s unpublished letters. That one’s Friday, 10:15, EHHP Alumni Hall.

College Hosts Conference on Eudora Welty



Full conference program


under: C of C Program in Southern Studies, Charleston, Southern Literature, Students, Uncategorized

Showcasing Our First Five SOST minors

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | February 14, 2019 | No Comment |

Five students will discuss capstone projects they did for the minor. Each capstone began in one of the student’s Southern Studies minor courses. For their capstone project, they enriched the original project using ideas, skills, and knowledge gained in other disciplines and courses from their program of study. Join us for celebration, discussion and snacks Feb 14, 3 pm, Addlestone 227.

Flyer lists student presenters Jake Anders, Mary Scott Gilbert, Patty Ploehn, Stella Rounsefell, Marti Stegall

under: Uncategorized

A Jewish Jacobin in Revolutionary Charleston: Abraham Sasportas

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | February 11, 2019 | No Comment |

This post is written by Philippe R. Girard, Professor of Caribbean History, McNeese State University.

© Philippe Girard 2019

Charleston, where I spent a week doing research in January 2019 as a fellow at the Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture, is famous for its rich architecture and history. Some of it has not yet been fully explored: that is the case of Abraham Sasportas, who built the two houses now known as the “Sasportas tenements” at 44-46 Queen St., and whose name is also mentioned on the plaque in front of 54 Tradd St., as one of the “distinguished residents” who once lived at this address.

Abraham Sasportas was the scion of a wide-ranging Sephardic family, which, like all members of this Jewish community, originated in the Iberian peninsula before branching out to various Atlantic ports of Europe, the United States, and Charleston. Born in Bordeaux, France, Sasportas visited Cap-Français, Saint-Domingue (now Cap-Haïtien, Haiti) before settling in Charleston, SC, where in 1778 he married another Sephardic Jew with Caribbean connections: Rachel da Costa.

Sasportas became a noted patriot during the American Revolution. He served in the French militia that helped defend Charleston during the British siege (other members of the Sasportas family living in London and Amsterdam helped John Adams and Alexander Hamilton sell U.S. bonds in European markets). Then, when the British occupied Charleston, he left for Philadelphia rather than live under British rule. In Philadelphia, he helped finance a new synagogue as well as privateers to attack British shipping. This dual allegiance to his faith and to the age of revolutions defined his life.

Returning to Charleston after the American Revolution, Sasportas became one of the town’s leading figures. Ads for his mercantile house appeared regularly in the press: using his family connections, he imported sugar and other tropical goods from Saint-Domingue and Jamaica, as well as wine and brandy from Bordeaux. He often appeared in legal records as well, usually over unpaid debts, either as a defendant or a plaintiff. He was also active in freemason circles as well as the Jewish congregation, which was the largest in the United States and in 1792 began work on an impressive synagogue (now burnt) on the site of the current synagogue on Hassel St.

Sasportas never severed his links with France, particularly in the 1790s, when the French and Haitian Revolutions led to multiple waves of migration from France and the Caribbean, reinforcing Charleston’s distinctive French and Caribbean flair. This was the time when Sasportas became even more of a revolutionary activist and trouble-maker. He sided with pro-revolutionary Frenchmen, particularly the French consul Mangourit, and France’s local allies in the Democrat-Republican Party. Conversely, he made numerous enemies among exiled French monarchists and slave-owners, as well as the pro-British Federalist party. He joined the French Patriotic Society, the first and most radical of the pro-revolutionary societies in the United States, and involved himself in public battles that were the talk of the town. One was so bitter that Sasportas came close to fighting a duel with a French aristocrat he had insulted.

Just as he had done during the American Revolution, Sasportas outfitted privateers to harass British shipping. He was also the official French prize agent in Charleston, in charge of selling the British merchant ships seized at sea. The administration of George Washington, however, wished to remain neutral in the European war and banned such activities for US citizens. Sasportas, using his ambiguous status as a dual French-American national, continued his activities nonetheless, leading to sharp complaints by the British consul in Charleston and various lawsuits that ended up on the docket of the US Supreme Court.

Once, when visiting the prison of Charleston, Sasportas met a prisoner named Jonathan Robbins, who was accused of having been the ringleader during the mutiny of the HMS Hermione, the bloodiest mutiny in British naval history. British authorities spent years tracking down the mutineers, eventually locating Robbins in Charleston. Sasportas immediately took up his cause and hired lawyers for Robbins. No stranger to controversy, Sasportas found himself at the center of yet another political and legal maelstrom over impressment, extradition, and citizenship that attracted national attention (Robbins lost the case and was eventually hanged in Jamaica).

To prevail against the British and Spanish monarchies, the French revolutionary government had an ambitious plan: to raise funds and troops in the United States, then use them to invade Louisiana and Florida. French Consul Mangourit in Charleston was charged with organizing the invasion of Florida. The man who handled logistics for the expedition was none other than his prize agent: Abraham Sasportas. After years of preparations, the expedition was cancelled at the last minute at the request of the US government, but not before a group of French and American adventurers had invaded Amelia Island in Florida in 1794.

In the Caribbean, the French went one step further: they abolished slavery in 1793-1794 and employed black freedmen to attack British colonies and free local slaves. In South Carolina, where slavery underpinned the plantation economy, fears grew that French exiles would attempt a similar scheme. When slave conspiracies were uncovered in Virginia and South Carolina, Abraham Sasportas was immediately cited as a possible conspirator. The evidence for Sasportas’ involvement is thin, however: like most elite white men of his time, Sasportas was a slave-owner and remained so well into the 1800s. Like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, he saw no contradiction between the ideals of the Enlightenment and the peculiar institution of slavery.

Another Sasportas disagreed: Isaac Sasportas, the son of Abraham Sasportas’ brother in Saint-Domingue. From 1793 to 1795, Isaac lived with his uncle in Charleston. Isaac was a young man and an idealist who had embraced the more radical ideals of the French and American revolutions, including universal emancipation. After returning to the Caribbean, Isaac Sasportas hatched an ambitious scheme to invade British Jamaica with an army of 4,000 freedmen from Saint-Domingue and free the slaves of Jamaica. If successful, the plan would have changed the course of history, allowing the Haitian Revolution to export itself to foreign shores. With the help of the French representative in Saint-Domingue, Isaac recruited troops, armed ships, and went to Jamaica to set the plan in motion. But details of the plans were leaked—amazingly, by none other than the Haitian revolutionary Toussaint Louverture—and the British were able to arrest and execute young Isaac in 1799. The slave revolt in Jamaica never took place.

Armband with slogan “Vanquish or Die”

When news of Isaac’s death reached Charleston, local planters again accused Abraham Sasportas of being again tied to the cause of abolition. He demurred, explaining that he had nothing to do with the Sasportas executed in Jamaica—even though he was his own nephew and he had lived with him for years.

Possibly because of his controversial political activism, Abraham Sasportas distanced himself from Charleston in later years. After remarrying to another member of a Jewish Charleston family, Charlotte Canter (who was 33 years his junior!), he made extended visits to his native Bordeaux and eventually re-settled there permanently. This leaves us with another mystery about his cultural identity: did Sasportas see himself primarily as a Jew? An American? A Frenchman? It’s difficult to know.

Several descendants of Sasportas remained in the United States, however. Some were white and Jewish; others were Protestant and mixed-race. Some of these mixed-race descendants, like Joseph Sasportas, owned slaves and did not challenge the existing racial order. Others, like Thaddeus K. Sasportas, were active in Republican politics during the era of Reconstruction and helped broaden black educational opportunities at Claflin University. Those complex dynamics are appropriate for the descendants of such a fascinating figure as Abraham Sasportas, who was at once an American patriot, a French sentimentalist, a Sephardic Jew, an outrageous Jacobin, a privateer, a tireless litigant, and a slave-owner. The plaque on Tradd St. might have to be enlarged to fit all the ways to describe the man who once resided there.


under: Uncategorized

Upcoming events–Jan/Feb 2019

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | January 25, 2019 | No Comment |

Here are a few upcoming events where you can learn more about the South and issues facing the region.

January 28 5-6:30 pm, Maybank 100 WGS Year of Women “Intersections” series on Gender, Race, and Medicine, with Kathleen Beres Rogers, Latecia M. Abraham-Hilaire, Allison Foley, Beth Sundstrom, Lisa Young, sponsored by WGST and English; refreshments will be served.

January 29, 6 pm Simons 309    Lecture on Southbound mapping project by Rick Bunch, UNC-Greensboro, sponsored by Halsey Institute & Southbound project

Feb 5, 6 pm, Randolph Hall  Panel discussion “Bridging the Divide: Placemaking for Communities of Color in the SC Lowcountry.” Bernard Powers, moderator; keynote by Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham; panelists Grant Gilmore, Wayne Smith, Kwadjo Campbell, Herb Frazier. Sponsored by OID, Avery, AAST, Arts Management.

Feb 7 5-7 3rd Floor Addlestone “Dynamic Pasts, Changing Futures: Student Reflections of Life in the Lowcountry” Sponsored by Voices of Southern Hospitality oral history project & Southern Studies program

Feb 8 6 pm 3rd floor Addlestone: Lecture by Bernie Powers, part of CLAW’s “The Vesey Conspiracy at 200”

Feb 9 7 pm 3rd floor Addlestone: Lecture by Michael Moore, part of CLAW’s Vesey conference

Feb 11, 6-8 pm. ECTR 118   AAST Film Festival “Beasts of the Southern Wild” with discussion led by Lisa Young

Feb 12 6 pm, City Gallery at Waterfront Park, An Evening with Nikky Finney, sponsored by Halsey Institute and Southbound

Feb 19, 3:30-5 pm, Addlestone 227    “Intersections” panel on Women in SC, with Amy McCandless, sponsored by WGS & History

Feb 20, 6-9 pm Gaillard Center, Hate Crime Forum, sponsored by Avery & Charleston Police Department

Feb 21, 6 pm, Halsey Institute Curator-led tour of Southbound

Feb 21-23 The Eudora Welty Society presents an international conference: “The Continuous Thread of Revelation: Eudora Welty Reconsidered. Daytime panels are in Stern Center Ballroom Feb 21 and in EHHP Alumni Center Feb 22 and 23. Sponsored by English Department, WGST, HSS, and Southern Studies. Free to C of C community; click here to register.  Others should register for the conference at eudoraweltysociety.org.

Feb 21. 5:30-7:30 pm Stern Center Ballroom, “Charleston Writers Discuss Their Beginnings  with Josephine Humphreys, Harlan Greene, Michele Moore, Marcus Amaker. Part of Eudora Welty Society conference.

Feb 22, 6:15 pm, EHHP Alumni Center, Dramatic reading of Eudora Welty’s “Moon Lake”  Part of Eudora Welty Society conference.



under: Uncategorized

MLK Day Parade: Helping Us See Ourselves

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | January 21, 2019 | No Comment |


Spectators at Marion Square for MLK Day Parade, 1.21.19

Charleston Area Justice Ministry members wait their turn to join parade.

Today was a chance for us to see each other.  A parade can’t do the hard work of building and re-building the beloved community. But it can help if it shows us that we’re “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny,” as today’s honoree wrote in 1963. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” He also wrote, “One day the South will recognize its real heroes. . . . One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream.”

At today’s parade, marchers and spectators kept waving to each other. “Happy King Day!” everyone said. “Keep the dream alive!” some people added. Nobody seemed to get tired of waving. In the group I was marching with, people occasionally called out to friends they recognized along the way, but most of the day’s greetings were between strangers. Our common denominator:  thinking this parade was something worth showing up for.

We were seeing each other in our beautiful city– un-flooded for the time being, high-end condo construction projects casting shadows over Upper King Street, kids in our group running out to give candy to spectators, the Burke High School band putting spring in everyone’s steps.

We were seeing the city and the region, what we are and what we can become. Multicultural, diverse, dynamic, oddly hopeful. In need of so much repair.

That’s the South I study—the region I care about, pay attention to, strive to understand more deeply.

Happy King Day; keep the dream alive.

Julia Eichelberger, Director, Program in Southern Studies


under: C of C Program in Southern Studies, Charleston, Social Activism in the South

Symposium, “Public Memory in the New South”

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | January 7, 2019 | No Comment |
A great line-up of events this week, sponsored by the Halsey Gallery in connection with the photography exhibit “Southbound” now in the Halsey and at City Gallery.
Lecture by Sheila Pree Bright, 7 pm Friday, “#UNAPOLOGETIC” (Bright’s photography documents Black experiences including recent Black Lives Matter protests. Her visit is jointly sponsored by the Avery’s Race and Social Justice Initiative & supported by the Sustainability Literacy Institute.
Saturday symposium “Public Memory in the New South,” including historians Adam Domby, Thomas Brown, & Thavolia Glymph, IAAM director of education Brenda Tindal, and 4 photographers whose work is in Southbound: Jeanine Michna Bales, Jessica Ingram, Anderson Scott, and Eliot Dudik. Symposium is 10-4 with a lunch break from 12-2.
Lecture by Michael Arad, 7 pm Saturday “Memory in the Public Realm: Making the Past Present” (designer of the 9/11 memorial at the World Trade Center, now designing a memorial for Emanuel AME Church)
All events are open to the public. Hope to see you there!
under: Uncategorized

Guest Lecturer: Nathalie Dupree

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | November 24, 2018 | No Comment |

Photo by Heather Moran

Many thanks to Nathalie Dupree, cookbook author and biscuit maker extraordinaire, for spending an afternoon with my Intro to Southern Studies students last week. Her demonstration of biscuit making provided many helpful pointers as well as some delicious biscuits hot from the oven in the kitchen of McAlister Residence Hall.

Photo by Heather Moran

She told students that flour grown in the South is a softer flour, necessary for a tender biscuit. Southern flour brands use names like “Lily White” and “Martha White” to promote their bleached flour, which Ms. Dupree also prefers. (A whole wheat biscuit, something I said I once enjoyed baking, is “an oxymoron.”) Northern flours are better for making bread, whereas all-purpose flours like Pillsbury Gold Medal work for both bread or biscuit baking, but produce a less-than-ideal version of either, according to Ms. Dupree.

The recipe she demonstrated included two parts self-rising Southern bleached flour and one part heavy cream. It’s not just a matter of measuring; flour behaves differently each time, so bakers must feel the dough as it gets wetter, while stirring as little as possible. The best way to do this is to use a large, wide bowl. Ms. Dupree had brought along her own shallow wooden bowl, noting that once upon a time, “Everybody’s grandmother had a biscuit bowl.” She explained that when using soft flour, one can make a well in the flour and pour in the cream, which will sit on top of the flour while the flour is gently mixed from the outside in. Good bakers have a feel for the right consistency of the dough, which takes practice.

Photo by Heather Moran, The College Today

To roll out the biscuit dough, Ms. Dupree used a method she’s developed after traveling to many sites demonstrating her biscuit making. Rather than a rolling pin, she used two flexible cutting board sheets to press the dough to the desired thinness. Next she folded the flexible sheet in half, then again from the other direction, making four layers of dough that could be flattened back to the original thinness with the second cutting board sheet. This should be done at least three times to create layers in the dough.

She baked these biscuits at 450 degrees for 20 minutes before checking on their progress and turning the pan around to get a more even bake. All bakers must learn how their particular oven cooks—no matter how big & fancy, or small and inexpensive, the oven (and the small pan for today’s biscuits could’ve fit into a countertop oven). Only trial and error will enable you to discover the right temperature and time for your home oven.

As students began mixing another batch of dough, Ms. Dupree encouraged everyone not to be afraid of making mistakes at home.. She opined that Southern women, in particular, believe that “they are a failure if they cannot make biscuits the first time. . . People still assume that a woman is born, coming out of the womb, holding a biscuit bowl.”

She advised students to “spend ten dollars on ingredients for biscuits” and make a lot of batches, using different recipes. By the time you’ve used all those ingredients,  “you will make a biscuit that you can live off the rest of your life.”

One final tip: “If you have leftover biscuits, you can melt butter in a pan and fry ‘em up.”













under: C of C Program in Southern Studies, Courses, Foodways, Students

Check out all our Spring 2019 Course Offerings

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | November 3, 2018 | No Comment |

We’ve got a huge array of course offerings that can be counted toward the minor in Southern Studies. If you’re interested in the South, these courses are great opportunities to learn more!

Click here for a pdf of the complete list followed by flyers describing many of these courses.

AAST 280 Intro to African American Music TR 10:50 am-12:05 pm Prof. Mari Crabtree

AAST 300-05  Africana Womanhood and Migration Narratives TR 01:40 pm-02:55 pm Prof. Mari Crabtree

ARTH 338 American Vernacular Architecture & Material Culture MWF 09:00 am-09:50 am Prof. Richard Gilmore

BIOL 301 Plant Taxonomy MWF 11:00 am-11:50 am (Lab M 01:00-05:00 pm) Prof. Jean Everett

BIOL 333 Ornithology F  07:30 am-10:30 am (Lab F 11:00 am-03:00 pm) Prof. Melissa Hughes

BIOL 334 Herpetology TR 10:50 am-12:05 pm (Lab T 12:10 pm-04:10 pm) Prof. Allison Welch

EDFS 201-02-07 Foundations of Education (Multiple Sections)

ENGL 313 African American Literature MWF 12:00 pm-12:50 pm Prof. Valerie Frazier

ENGL 190 Obstinate Daughters: Women and Social Justice in the 19th & 20th Centuries TR 9:25 am – 10:40 am  Prof. Jesslyn Collins-Frohlich


HIST 217 African American History since 1865 MWF 01:00 pm-01:50 pm Prof. Shannon Eaves

HIST 320 ST: Modern Charleston T 06:00 pm-08:45 pm     Prof. Robert Stockton

HPCP 299-01 Preservation Planning Studio M 02:00 pm-05:00 pm Prof. James Ward

HPCP 299-02 Preservation Planning Studio R 02:00 pm-05:00 pm Prof. James Ward

HTMT 310-01 Current Topics in HTMT: Current Issues in Charleston Tourism W 05:30 pm-08:15 pm Prof. Michael Seekings

LACS 200-01 Special Topics: Talking Trash and Wasting Time: A Carribean Ecology  MWF 3:00-3:50  Prof. Christine Garcia

LING 290 ST: A View of American English Dialects           TR 09:25 am-10:40 am Prof. Elizabeth A Martinez-Gibson

MUSC 222-04 ST: Like a Rolling Stone: History and Development of Rock Music ONLINE Prof. Yiorgos Vassilandonakis

MUSC 365 Ensemble: Gospel Choir TBA Prof. Brenten Merrill Weeks

RELS 298 Special Topics in Religious Studies: Global Evangelicalism MWF 01:00 pm-01:50 pm Prof. Leonard Lowe

SOST 200 Intro. to Southern Studies TR 01:40 pm-02:55 pm Prof. Tammy Ingram

SOST 400 Southern Studies Capstone Proj TR 03:05 pm-04:20 pm Prof. Julia Eichelberger

Additional Special Topics Courses May Be Added As More Information Becomes Available.

Certain Independent Studies and Tutorials May Be Eligible Depending on Their Content.

NOTE: ENGL 350.o2 and ENGL 364.01 have been cancelled.


under: Uncategorized

Revisiting Southern Women and the American Civil War

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | October 3, 2018 | No Comment |

This post is by Kristen Brill, research fellow for the Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture,

Author’s photo of Ft. Sumter

My research examines the interplay between gender, race and nationalism on the Confederate home front. This summer, as a research fellow at the Center for Southern Jewish Culture, I extended my frame of analysis to include religion in my study of the wartime South. Specifically, I took a closer look at the role of religion in shaping relations between Union soldiers and southern Jewish women in the occupied South. Then, I adopted a wider-angle approach, using a diverse range of Jewish women’s first-person accounts, to examine the role of Judaism in the social construction of Confederate nationalism and wartime gender identity.

This research interrogates the relationship between Judaism, gender and nationalism on the Confederate home front: How did relationships between Union soldiers in occupied cities and southern Jewish women shape Jewish women’s definitions and experiences of Confederate nationalism? To what extent did Jewish women’s definitions and experiences of Confederate nationalism differ from those of non-Jewish southern women? This is an undeveloped area of the historiography of the Civil War; its inclusion will extend and complicate understandings of marginalization, power and belonging in the Confederacy.

Ladies’ Gunboat Handbill, 1862, South Carolina Historical Society

At the College of Charleston, I also had the opportunity to expand my collection of teaching materials. In my experience teaching in the UK, students better connect with the theoretical concepts and secondary historiography through a thorough engagement with primary source materials. I found several compelling first-person accounts and images that will structure my seminar sessions in the upcoming academic year. In particular, this image of a program benefitting the local Ladies’ Gunboat Association is a rare piece of documentation from the ladies’ gunboat associations that sprung up around the South in early 1862. This image will bring these mid-nineteenth-century organizations into the classroom and allow students to engage with issues surrounding women on the Confederate home front in a more tangible way.

In Charleston, as a researcher interested in southern history, I was *living the dream.* The chance to visit iconic sites in American history, from Fort Sumter to the Lowcountry plantations, complemented my work in the archive and allowed me to fully immerse myself in the landscape and narrative of the history of South Carolina. The opportunity to experience southern culture in Charleston, from the people to the food, was the highlight of my trip. I was met with warmth and hospitality everywhere I went, from the archive to Home Team BBQ. As an academic based in the UK, this research fellowship afforded me a rare opportunity to spend a significant amount of time in the US and complete essential archival research for my project. I am grateful for the generous support of the Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture at the College of Charleston, especially the invaluable guidance of both Dr. Dale Rosengarten and Dr. Shari Rabin. This was the highlight of my summer and I hope very much to return soon!


under: Civil War, Research Projects, Southern Jewish History, Uncategorized

Why We Need the New Center for the Study of Slavery

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | September 25, 2018 | No Comment |

Claiming Our Inheritance

Julia Eichelberger

This essay was published in the Post and Courier but was originally written for this blog, using the above title.


under: Uncategorized

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