Chestertown, MD — Washington College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience will host Marcus Rediker, winner of the 2008 George Washington Book Prize, during a two-day celebration of the $50,000 award for the best book on the founding era in American history.
The celebration of Rediker's winning book, The Slave Ship: A Human History, begins Thursday, Sept. 18, at 4:15 p.m., with a booksigning at Bethel A.M.E. Church, 237 N. College Ave, adjacent to the Washington College campus. Then, at 5 p.m., Rediker will deliver the Book Prize Lecture, "The Floating Dungeon: A History of the Slave Ship." The lecture will take place in the Bethel A.M.E. Church sanctuary, and the program will include a musical performance by vocalist Karen Somerville, with Stefan Scaggiari on piano and Tom Anthony on bass.
On Friday, Sept. 19, at 10:30 a.m., Adam Goodheart, the Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the C.V. Starr Center, will interview Marcus Rediker onstage at the Casey Academic Center Forum on the Washington College campus in a program titled, "Making History: A Public Conversation on the Historian's Craft." The event will also include a question-and-answer session with the audience.
All events are free and open to the public.
Chair of the History Department at the University of Pittsburgh, Rediker is widely celebrated for his books about maritime life and the people—pirates, sailors, slaves, indentured servants—who crossed oceans to create the earliest versions of a global economy. The Slave Ship is his fifth book—a sweeping and evocative account of the floating prisons that carried an estimated 12.4 million Africans across the "Middle Passage" of the Atlantic to help build a new America.
"I wanted to make our understanding of the slave trade concrete," says Rediker, "to see it as a human history—hence the subtitle of my book—because I believe that the human capacity to live with injustice depends to some extent on making it abstract. The existing scholarship on the slave trade is outstanding, but a lot of it is statistical, which can occlude the horror of what one group of people is doing to another for money."
For more information about the George Washington Book Prize, which is co-sponsored by Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and George Washington's Mount Vernon, visit the C.V. Starr Center website at starrcenter.washcoll.edu, or call 410-810-7165.
August 27, 2008