The Alexandria Association is the city’s oldest organization devoted to the preservation of Alexandria’s historic buildings, landscapes, records, and antiquities; and to education in the decorative, fine, and building arts.
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Through the story of a portrait of a woman in a silk dress, historian Zara Anishanslin embarks on a fascinating journey, exploring and refining debates about the cultural history of the eighteenth-century British Atlantic world. While most scholarship on commodities focuses either on labor and production or on consumption and use, Anishanslin unifies both, examining the worlds of four identifiable people who produced, wore, and represented this object: a London weaver, one of early modern Britain's few women silk designers, a Philadelphia merchant's wife, and a New England painter. Blending macro and micro history, Anishanslin investigates a range of subjects including identity, natural history, politics, and trade. This talk considers how women who made and wore silk on both sides of the Atlantic, including this London silk designer, Philadelphia merchant's wife, and Martha Washington, used flowered silk to fashion the botanical landscape of empire.
Zara Anishanslin is Associate Professor of History and Art History at the University of Delaware. She previously taught at CUNY (College of Staten Island) and at Columbia, where she also co-chaired the Columbia Seminar in Early American History and Culture from 2011-16. Anishanslin received her PhD in the History of American Civilization at the University of Delaware in 2009, and has been a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the New-York Historical Society (2014-15) and a Patrick Henry Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at Johns Hopkins (2009-2010). Other fellowships include grants from the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, The Huntington Library, the American Antiquarian Society, Harvard Atlantic Seminar, the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the Henry Luce Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies. She can often be found talking history on the Travel Channel’s “Mysteries at the Museum” show and just served as Material Culture Consultant for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton, The Exhibition.” Her first book, Portrait of a Woman in Silk: Hidden Histories of the British Atlantic World (Yale University Press, 2016) was the Inaugural Winner of The Library Company of Philadelphia’s Biennial Book Prize in 2018 and a Finalist for the 2017 Best First Book Prize from the Berkshire Conference of Women’s Historians. Anishanslin was the 2018 Mount Vernon Georgian Papers Program Fellow, working at the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle, the Washington Library, and King’s College London on her new project on the American Revolution, London Patriots. This year she is a Barra Postdoctoral Sabbatical Fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
Out of concern for the well-being of our speaker and our members, we have cancelled Monday’s lecture. Be assured that we will reschedule Zara when it is safe to do so!.