Religion and Culture in the Americas Seminar at the Newberry Library

The Newberry Library is hosting a Religion and Culture in the Americas Seminar on Friday, November 10, 2017. Unlike other seminars, this one provides an opportunity for attendees to read the paper before the seminar and participate in the discussion. Neither presenter reads the paper at the seminar but rather comments on the goals of the work. A respondent critiques both papers and then the seminar is open for discussion.

The sponsors of the seminar are Albion College, the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Wheaton College. More details below:

When: Friday, November 10, 2017 / 3:00pm to 5:00pm / Room 101
Where: The Newberry Library / 60 West Walton Street / Chicago IL 60610

Two papers will be presented:

The Benedictines, Sugar and Slavery: Texts, Contexts and Material Culture from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Worlds
James Krippner, Haverford College 
This paper will present an overview and some initial archival and visual culture research findings from Brazil and Portugal from what is ultimately intended to be a multi-volume study of sugar, slavery, and Christianity and in the Portuguese colonial world. The paper will emphasize the network of Benedictine monasteries within the Portuguese empire and especially colonial Brazil that developed from the late sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, though I shall also consider the Benedictine presence in the late medieval Mediterranean world and early modern Angola. The paper will conclude with a brief discussion of the role played by Benedictines in terms of the abolition of slavery in Brazil. In 1871 Benedictines freed all their slaves, seventeen years prior to Brazilian emancipation in 1888.

Quaker Institutionalism and the Success of Antislavery Legislation:
The New England Yearly Meeting, 1760-1784
          Kevin Vrevich, Ohio State University
After declaring slavery incompatible with Truth and the Inner Light in the 1760s, Quakers worked tirelessly over the next three decades to eradicate slaveholding within their meetings and in the states where they lived. Yet while Quaker beliefs and Revolutionary rhetoric tend to receive credit for the success of gradual emancipation, Quakers’ institutional nature and past experience in politics played a far more vital role in securing antislavery victories. This paper seeks to examine the importance of Quaker institutions and activism to antislavery success through an examination of the New England Yearly Meeting in Rhode Island from 1760-1784.

The respondent for this session will be Aaron Fogleman, Northern Illinois University. Newberry Scholarly Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically. For a copy of the paper, email Please only request a paper if you plan to attend.

For more information on the seminar series, please visit the Newberry website.