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LLC30: Culture and Democracy in Nineteenth-Century New York


We are 19th-century scholars interested in race, gender, reform, religion, politics, art, and literature in 19th-century New York. We are graduate students, faculty, and librarians who look at site specific archives, visual culture, and literature.

Open to New People

Active since: 2019

  • Syracuse University
  • University of Rochester
  • Cornell University

Collaborative Goals

Our goal was to organize a larger event -- a keynote speaker (Britt Rusert) followed by graduate student papers on "Collectivity." We had a wonderful two day event which made a large difference for graduate students. We also organized an archive section at Kroch library which we had to keep small -- but the students and faculty were completely engaged. These events took place over September 29-30, 2023 and were well attended.

In Memoriam

We are very sorry to announce the passing of one of our initial group organizers, Ezra Tawil, a Professor at the University of Rochester. Ezra has been an important part of our group from the beginning. His research on nineteenth-century contexts and crises has been inspirational for many of us. Books such as The Making of Racial Sentiment: Slavery and the Birth of the Frontier Romance (Cambridge University Press, 2006) have established key terms for nineteenth-century studies. We have attached a tribute from a graduate student at the University of Rochester, Seth Murray.

Ezra Tawil was the finest teacher I had in graduate school. In the classroom he could field a conversation like no other. He had a unique gift for making every student feel as if their contributions were interesting, urgent, and fresh. He was excited and filled with joy, week in and week out, that we were all there to read and talk about books with him. During the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, he and I were undertaking an independent study on the early American novel. Each week, logging in to Zoom to see him there, smiling and laughing in the midst of so much chaos, remains one of the few bright spots of life from that difficult period. That odd virtual space was the crystallized form of what he could do as a teacher: turn the classroom into a kind of asylum from the world, not where it might be escaped but instead where it became more bearable, more livable.

As a scholar, he was a particularly graceful writer. He had a knack for managing a style that was both conversational and clear, while also not sacrificing any intellectual rigor. He was both generous and incisive in his work – and above all, curious. While specializing in the early American period, his work spoke just as intelligently about a vast range of topics, including Renaissance rhetoricians, Borges, and James Baldwin. At the time of his death, he was hard at work on a project about Judaism, religious violence, and Clarel – the culmination of a lifetime spent passionately reading Melville.

May his memory be a blessing.

Group Organizers

Dorri Beam

Associate Professor of English, Syracuse University

Ezra Tawil

Professor of English, Director of Graduate Studies, University of Rochester

Shirley Samuels

Professor of English, Director of American Studies, Cornell University

Group Members

  • Gerard Aching, Professor, African Studies, Cornell University
  • Jeffrey Adams, Graduate Student, Syracuse University
  • Alex Black, Associate Professor, English, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  • Kimiyo Bremer, Ph.D. Student in History of Art, Cornell University
  • Charline Jao, Ph.D. Student, Cornell University
  • Madeline Krumel, Graduate Student, Syracuse University
  • Will Marple, Graduate Student, Syracuse University
  • Chanté Morris, Ph.D. Student, Cornell University
  • Seth Murray, Ph.D. Student, University of Rochester
  • Jon Parmenter, Professor, History, Cornell University
  • Patty Roylance, Syracuse University
  • Joan Shelley Rubin, Professor, History, University of Rochester
  • Derrick Spires, Cornell University
  • Lenora Warren, Professor, Cornell University
  • Mary Grace Albanese, Professor, SUNY Binghamton
  • Crystal Donkor, Professor, English, SUNY New Paltz
  • Matt Seybold, Professor, Elmira College
  • Susannah Sharpless, Ph.D. student, Cornell University
  • Kyhl Stephen, Ph.D. student, Cornell University


Britt Rusert Lecture

Sept. 29, 2023, 4:30 p.m.

Planning Meeting for Rochester 2024

April 21, 2023, 2:30 p.m.

Group Outcomes

We had a good format of a working lunch where graduate students could ask professional questions. That enabled them to engage with each other and form alliances. The graduate student papers were excellent -- nine presentations across three panels with great discussion.