Exploring the role of Black women in the Regency

UMass professor showcased at webinar from Jane Austen & Co. at the University of North Carolina

Naomi Baker, Raider Times staff

Beginning March 25, Jane Austen & Co. at the University of North Carolina has put on a series of virtual Zoom events detailing the lives of Black women in the regency era and their portrayal in the media of the time. “Race & The Regency” has hosted various speakers discussing topics spanning from the modern “Bridgerton” to classic “Pride & Prejudice.” The Raider Times recently attended one of their free Zoom virtual events, headed by speaker Gretchen Gerzina.

Gerzina, a professor at UMass Amherst, an expert in the field of Black Victorian English History, and the author of nine books on the topic, spoke to the audience about the disconnect between the true Black women of the era and their representation in the literature of the era. In order to properly convey this detachment from reality, Gerzina employed the use of storytelling to both explain the ordinariness of Victorian Black women and the ridiculousness of their image in the public eye. As Gerzina said, “For every so-called Ethiopian singer there may have been an actual Black wife or girl”.  

In addition to this, Gerzina also shed light on how common it was to see Black women in the Victorian age, despite the popular (incorrect) opinion that they did not exist or were few in number. Overall, Gerzina offered a unique perspective on the Victorian experience, a perspective that is all too often ignored during traditional history class. 

While the series “Race & the Regency” is sadly coming to a close soon, previous events have been recorded.  If you are interested in attending a future virtual event or don’t have time but still want to view the talks, check out https://www.janeaustenandco.org/home-eventsapp to find events and watch recordings of previous ones. 

In addition to this, for all the Jane Austen super fans reading, Jane Austen & Co is once again putting together the Jane Austen summer program. While the program has already sold out there is always next year!

–May 14, 2021–