Moreau de Saint-Méry: Print Culture, Slavery, and the Multilingual American Enlightenment

11 March 2019, 11:00 - 12:00

CRASSH Meeting Room, Alison Richard Building, Sidgwick Site


The work in progress seminars were varied, stimulating and of  high intellectual calibre."
Susanne Hakenbeck (Archaeology), Early Career Fellow, Lent 2017

Part of the CRASSH Fellows Work in Progress Seminar Series.  All welcome but please email  Michelle Maciejewska to book your place and to request readings.  A sandwich lunch and refreshments are provided.

Dr Sara Johnson


While at CRASSH Johnson will be working on a book about the Caribbean philosophe Moreau de Saint-Méry (1750-1819). A refugee of both the French and Haitian Revolutions, he was a practitioner of early comparative American historiography.  The book explores the multilingual underpinnings of Enlightenment-era thought among slaveholding intellectuals while simultaneously documenting the “shadow army” of people of African descent who undergirded Moreau’s work on multiple levels, from the people he personally enslaved to those who served as interlocutors in his legal tomes and natural histories.

Johnson’s first book, The Fear of French Negroes: Transcolonial Collaboration in the Revolutionary Americas  (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), is an inter-disciplinary study that explores how people of African descent responded to the collapse and reconsolidation of colonial life in the aftermath of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1845). Using visual culture, popular music and dance, periodical literature and historical memoirs, the book traces expressions of transcolonial black politics, both aesthetic and experiential, in places including Hispaniola, Louisiana, Jamaica, and Cuba.  Johnson is the co-editor of Kaiso! Writings By and About Katherine Dunham  (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, Studies in Dance History Series, 2006) and Una ventana a Cuba y los Estudios cubanos (San Juan: Ediciones Callejon, Spring 2010). 

Sara Johnson is an Associate Professor of Literature at the University of California, San Diego. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Stanford University and her B.A. in Comparative Literature and African American Studies from Yale University.  Recent fellowships include those from the Ford Foundation, the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Program, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Hellman Fund, and the American Council of Learned Societies.