Posted by: Pam, at RML | October 23, 2010

UPenn Professor Kathleen M. Brown’s talk on Foul Bodies

On Wednesday, October 27, at 7:30pm, University of Pennsylvania Professor of History, Kathleen M. Brown, will talk about her award-winning book, Foul Bodies: Cleanliness in Early America (2009). This author event is co-sponsored by Radnor Historical Society. Professor Brown will discuss this unusual cultural history that traces attitudes toward dirt through the mid-nineteenth century, demonstrating that cleanliness–and the lack of it–had moral, religious, and often sexual implications.

Foul Bodies, published by Yale University Press, is the winner of the 2010 Lawrence W. Levine Award, presented by the Organization of American Historians. It is also the winner of the 2009 Society for Historians of the Early American Republic Book Award, given by the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. Brown is also the author of Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and power in Colonial Virginia. Educated at Wesleyan and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Dr. Brown is a historian of gender and race in early America and the Atlantic World.

I first heard about Foul Bodies last year at my great aunt’s funeral in Delaware, where I was introduced to a college professor  from Connecticut, who eventually asked me how I made a living. When I told him I am a librarian- who-takes-great-pleasure-in-hunting-down-authors-for-a-great-little-library, he gave me the name of his friend, Kathy Brown, who, he said, had recently written a book about dirt. What luck that Dr. Brown teaches at UPenn and lives nearby! Hmmm…easy prey?

Kathleen M. Brown


The date I planned for the author’s  talk just  happened to be around Halloween. Since we are always  prepared for unusual, strange, and seductive happenings around Halloween— an unusual, but scholarly book such as Foul Bodies, is both trick…and treat  for the curious spirit in all of us! See you on Wednesday…

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