webinar register page

Webinar banner
Book Breaks with Sophie White and "Voices of the Enslaved"
Gilder Lehrman Book Breaks features the most exciting history scholars in America discussing their books with host William Roka live, followed by a Q&A with home audiences.

Join us online on Sunday, March 21 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET (11: 00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. PT) with Sophie White, as she discusses her book "Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana."

In eighteenth-century New Orleans, the legal testimony of some 150 enslaved women and men—like the testimony of free colonists—was meticulously recorded and preserved. Questioned in criminal trials as defendants, victims, and witnesses about attacks, murders, robberies, and escapes, they answered with stories about themselves, stories that rebutted the premise on which slavery was founded.

Focusing on four especially dramatic court cases, “Voices of the Enslaved” draws us into Louisiana’s courtrooms, prisons, courtyards, plantations, bayous, and convents to understand how the enslaved viewed and experienced their worlds. As they testified, these individuals charted their movement between West African, Indigenous, and colonial cultures; they pronounced their moral and religious values; and they registered their responses to labor, to violence, and, above all, to the intimate romantic and familial bonds they sought to create and protect.

Carefully assessing what we can discover, what we might guess, and what has been lost forever, Sophie White offers both a richly textured account of slavery in French Louisiana and a powerful meditation on the limits and possibilities of the archive.

Purchase books for Book Breaks at https://bookshop.org/lists/book-breaks.
All purchases support the Gilder Lehrman Institute and independent bookstores.

Everyone who registers will be sent a Zoom meeting link and instructions in the confirmation email.

For more information, please contact us at bookbreaks@gilderlehrman.org or visit us at gilderlehrman.org/bookbreaks.

Mar 21, 2021 02:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Webinar logo
* Required information

By registering, I agree to the Privacy Statement and Terms of Service.



Sophie White
SOPHIE WHITE is professor of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and concurrent professor in the departments of Africana Studies, History, and Gender Studies. A native of Mauritius, she is the recipient of seven book prizes (and finalist for another two) for "Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana," including the American Historical Association’s James A. Rawley Prize in Atlantic History and the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora's Rosalyn Terborg-Penn Prize in Gender & Sexuality. Her other publications include a co-edited volume, "Hearing Enslaved Voices: African and Indian Slave Testimony in British and French America, 1700–1848" and "Wild Frenchmen and Frenchified Indians: Material Culture and Race in Colonial Louisiana." Among other awards, she is the 2020 winner of the Frederick Douglass Book Prize.