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The DeLaney Center to Present Opening DeLaney Dialogue Discussion for the 2023-24 Academic Year Professor Wendy Castenell kicks off the series on Sept. 19 at noon in Leyburn Library.

Wendy-Castenell-scaled-600x400 The DeLaney Center to Present Opening DeLaney Dialogue Discussion for the 2023-24 Academic YearWendy Castenell, professor of art history

The Delaney Center at Washington and Lee University will present the first speaker in its 2023-24 DeLaney Dialogue series when Wendy Castenell, professor of art history, delivers an address in Leyburn 201 on Tuesday, Sept. 19 from noon-1 p.m. The talk is free of charge and lunch will be provided.

The Delaney Dialogues were created to engage audiences in conversation about regionally resonant themes, allowing for open dialogue and opportunities for learning. Exhibiting innovative strategies for teaching and researching Southern racial realities, these programs allow faculty and other interested participants to imagine how this protean region fits into broader professional and public possibilities.

Castenell, who also serves as a DeLaney Center Faculty Scholar, will present her research on “Creole Identity in Louisiana Portraits of the Long 19th Century,” which outlines the major themes and the research process for her upcoming book “Creole Identity in the Art of the American South: Louisiana from the Colonial Era to Reconstruction” that launches in Spring 2023.

“I will illustrate a selection of portraits featured in my manuscript and discuss how they are representative of the caste of highly educated, politically active, and affluent free people of color in 19th-century Louisiana who used portraiture as a means to construct their individual and group identities to counter the negative stereotypes that were pervasive in American visual culture,” said Castenell of her discussion. “I will outline how I located the portraits discussed in the book, as well as how I used a combination of primary and secondary sources such as legal cases, contemporary literature, newspaper articles, and census records, as well as secondary art history and Louisiana history sources to create a more comprehensive picture of Louisiana’s free people of color and how they actively used portraiture to bolster their position within society.”

Castenell joined the W&L faculty in 2022 after serving as an assistant professor of African American art at the University of Alabama. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Tulane University, a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a doctorate from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The DeLaney Center is an interdisciplinary academic forum that promotes teaching and research on race and Southern identity. Visit the DeLaney Center website at https://my.wlu.edu/delaney-center for updates on further DeLaney Dialogues, film screenings and other programming.