- T. [Phineas Taylor] Barnum and James W. Cook, The Colossal P.T. Barnum Reader: Nothing Else Like It in the Universe(Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2005).
- * Lost museum website <http://lostmuseum.cuny.edu/>
For all the Beyonce fans in this class: I’d encourage you to re-watch the music video for “Formation” now that we have started our slavery units. Pay attention to the representation of New Orleans contemporarily in a post-Katrina and Black Lives Matter world, but also focus on New Orleans’ historical representation. The costuming, the set design, the physical mannerisms in the choreography are arguing for a very specific black legacy that touches on slavery, Quadroon & Creole culture, the black church, and cultural resistance in New Orleans in layered ways. I’d also direct your attention to how “OK ladies now let’s get in formation” reverberates some of our class conversations as well as the repeated line “slay, trick, or get eliminated.” How are men represented in this video? Do you see anything from Stylin‘ in this music video?
Above: Historian James “Jay” Cook tells the story of Barnum’s Fiji Mermaid.
Weekly Precept Assignment
This week, our weekly assignment will focus on analyzing primary sources and using them for research. The Colossal P.T. Barnum Reader is an edited collection of primary sources. After reading through the book, select one of the images printed between pages 158-180. In your first paragraph, contextualize the image and do your best to analyze it. Who created it? When? Why? For what purpose? Who distributed it? What do you think the image arguing? What specific elements of the image make you believe that? In your second paragraph, suggest an argument you might make using the specific image you selected and 1 other primary source you found in this reader that you could use to substantiate your claims. The point of this exercise, beyond learning more about the world of P.T. Barnum, is to practice using primary sources, analyzing them, and building arguments with them. If you need a reminder on what constitutes a primary source versus a secondary source, here is my online guide. Keep your response between 250-400 words. Post your answer in blackboard.