A scholar of French colonialism and the “the early modern Atlantic world” will speak at Washington College for the annual Guy F. Goodfellow Memorial Lecture.
Brett Rushforth, associate professor of history at the University of Oregon, will deliver remarks on “The Atlantic World in Renaissance France” on Tuesday, April 18 at 4:30 in Hynson Lounge. The talk is free and open to the public.
Rushforth is the author of two books on the colonial era: Colonial North America and the Atlantic World: A History in Documents and Bonds of Alliance: Indigenous and Atlantic Slaveries in New France, which won four awards. He is currently at work on a third book, expected to publish from Oxford University Press next year, titled Discovering Empire: France and the Atlantic World from the Age of Crusading to the Age of Revolutions.
Rushforth’s talk at Washington College will outline the ways that French people consumed and created meaning from Atlantic goods, information, and people during the Renaissance. It reveals the central roleplayed by women in bringing the Atlantic into France. As keepers of oral traditions, cooks, hat sellers, costume makers, and weavers of dyed threads, women performed a significant proportion of the work that transformed the goods brought from Africa and the Americas to French shores. Much of this work occurred in the intimate spaces of households, workshops, kitchens, and marketplaces.
Men, too, of course, consumed and displayed colonial products, as well as specialized knowledge about distant places, in ways that earned them social currency. Sailors and fishermen returned from their voyages with stories to tell, which they shared (and no doubt embellished) at wharves, taverns, marketplaces, and workshops.
Merchants and financiers flaunted their newfound Atlantic wealth with statues, friezes, wall-hangings, and other decorations featuring West African and American images. Those with more cerebral inclinations created atlases and wrote cosmographies, trying to impose order on a world made new and unfamiliar by a century of Atlantic exchanges. New foods and medicines appeared featuring Atlantic trade goods, sought for the mystique of their distant origins. References to African and American places and peoples filtered into literary culture, appearing by the mid-sixteenth century in popular travel narratives, poetry, short stories, essays, and plays.
The Guy F. Goodfellow Memorial Lecture Series was created in 1989 to honor the memory of the late history professor who taught at Washington College for 30 years. The endowed lecture series was established by his family, the department and others who “Goody” touched over his years at the College. It brings a distinguished historian to campus each year to meet with our students and deliver a public presentation.
“One of the most dramatic ways in which Guy influenced his students was through his class lectures,” alumnus Dave Wheelan wrote in the appeal to people to help create the endowment in 1989. “For those of us privileged to have had Goody as a professor, these classes became one of the great highlights of our years at Washington College. They conveyed a passionate love of history as well as a profound sense of its relevancy, Undoubtedly, his lectures expanded our personal and intellectual horizons in countless ways.”