Distinguished Lecturers
Susan Strasser

Susan Strasser

Susan Strasser has been praised by the New Yorker for "retrieving what history discards: the taken-for-granted minutiae of everyday life." Her major books—Never Done: A History of American Housework (1982); Satisfaction Guaranteed: The Making of the American Mass Market (1989); and Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash (1999)—have won a number of awards for their contributions to women's history, the history of technology and business, and environmental history, and have been translated into Italian, Korean, and Japanese. She is Richards Professor Emerita of American History at the University of Delaware and has also taught at the Evergreen State College, George Washington University, Princeton University, and the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture. Her work has been supported by fellowships from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim foundations, the German Historical Institute, the Harvard Business School, the American Council of Learned Societies, Radcliffe College's Bunting Institute, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Cultures of Consumption Research Programme, Birkbeck College, University of London. She is currently working on two projects: "A White Historian Reads Black History," a series of talks for religious and community groups, and www.herbstory.info, a website about the history of medicinal plants in American culture.

OAH Lectures by Susan Strasser

American voting has historically been restricted on the basis of many things other than race, including gender, class, ethnicity, religion, age, and personal history. But race stands out. Only African Americans have had the right to vote granted and repeatedly taken away. Voting has been one aspect of a larger system of racist laws and customs, and the right to vote has been intertwined with the rights to good education, housing, and jobs. And that system has been backed by violence, terror, and intimidation. Using nearly sixty images and maps, this lecture surveys this history, with emphasis on two moments of possibility—Reconstruction and the early 1960s— and on recent attacks on the right to vote.

Responding to the 2015 murders at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Strasser has created what may be called a homemade one-person public history project—a series of talks about African American history to present to community and church groups. Currently she offers talks about slavery, lynching, voting rights, residential segregation, and "race riots," each illustrated with 50-60 images. This lecture offers an overview of the project, for public history professionals.

for university audiences

Slavery is arguably the most important topic in our history: American ideas about freedom developed in relation to slavery, it was the primary cause of the Civil War, and it was at the heart of American economic growth. This talk—illustrated with nearly sixty images—uses new work from historians to describe slavery as inherent to the development of American capitalism, to put the treatment of human property into that context, and to describe resistance to the slave system. It concludes with thoughts about the contemporary importance of this history. 


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