Cynthia A. Kierner is a professor of history at George Mason University, where she teaches early American and women's history. She is the author or editor of seven books including the award-winning Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello: Her Life and Times (2012) and Scandal at Bizarre: Rumor and Reputation in Jefferson's America (2004). Kierner is also a past president of the Southern Association for Women Historians. Her current book project is entitled "Inventing Disaster: The Culture of Calamity from Jamestown to Johnstown."
On 26 December 1811, a horrific fire in a Richmond, Virginia, theater killed at least 76 people, the vast majority of whom were women and children. This talk examines contemporary responses to the Richmond theater fire and how they related to gender, class, and race, and also to the ongoing construction of regional and national identities.