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Dr. Carol Singley: “Why Genealogy Matters?: Childhood, Kinship, and American National Identity”
October 16, 2013 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Dr. Carol Singley will give a guest lecture, “Why Genealogy Matters?: Childhood, Kinship, and American National Identity,” from 5–7 p.m. at Smathers Library (East), Room 1A.
Singley will discuss how genealogy has been essential to the construction of U.S. national identity since the nation’s inception. Famous “self-made” men like Benjamin Franklin, for example, considered the extent to which genealogy restricted one’s chances for success; indeed, Franklin continues to be cited as an example of why genealogy should not matter, and why constructed kinship relations should trump biological ones. Singley writes about the importance of childhood, kinship, and national identity when thinking about genealogy. In her book, Adopting America, she provides close readings of work by Franklin, Cotton Mather, Harriet Wilson, Louisa May Alcott, Edith Wharton, and others in order to demonstrate how the adoption trope in nineteenth-century American literature challenged traditional family structures and early conceptions of U.S. national identity. In this talk, Singley expands upon her earlier work in order to explain why genealogy continues to matter today. She includes examples from American books published for children and adults in order to make her case.
Singley is a Professor of English at Rutgers University-Camden, and she also teaches in the Department of Childhood Studies. She directs the graduate English program and co-directs the American Studies program. She co-founded and currently serves on the executive board of the Alliance for the Study of Adoption, Identity and Kinship, a group of interdisciplinary scholars interested in representations of adoption and issues of personal and social identity and family construction. Singley’s interests include childhood studies, adoption studies, women’s writing (especially Edith Wharton), nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature, and feminist theory.
The event will be co-sponsored by the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature, the Department of English, and the Center for Children’s Literature and Culture. Light refreshments will be served.