7 thoughts on “2020 Virtual Conference: Lydia Craig

  1. Hi Lydia! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your fantastic paper and the interesting Chicagoan archival history it incorporated!

    On your first page, you cite an article in which Dr. Gerzina is quoted as saying that Farro has perhaps been forgotten because she “does not fit the mold of familiar early African American writers, revived and ‘discovered’ today not only because of their race, but because they wrote about race.”

    I have not read True Love, but I was wondering to what extent it might be viewed as an exploration of whiteness, even if race is not explicitly referenced by the narrator in the novel? Is this something that you explore in your other works-in-progress on Farro, and if so, has it provided new avenues for your analysis of Farro’s legal battles?

    Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks so much for your question! Yes, I’m working on another paper about “True Love” at the moment. At first I was hoping to find out what, if anything, Farro was saying about whiteness in her novel. As Dr. Gerzina indicates, what Farro is doing here is somewhat unusual for African American authors of the period. Was she critiquing whiteness? Was race irrelevant to a plot otherwise focused on sickness, Christian patience, and the hope of an afterlife? I had read this novel a few years ago before I started researching her life and recently I returned to it, hoping to find more answers. Unexpectedly, a few critical details stood out to me in relation to facts I had discovered about her life, revealing that the race and nationality of the white English characters may be nothing more than a cultural disguise for a true story set in her African American community. I’m hoping to present this other paper at the next NCSA conference once I have a few more pieces of evidence!

      1. Congratulations on all of the great archival work you’ve done! I look forward to reading and hearing more, hopefully at the next NCSA conference! 🙂

  2. What a fascinating history! I find myself also wondering about Gerzina’s quote on your first page. As you argue, Farro discusses her accident through her novel–and this makes me wonder whether there might not be an opportunity to further analyze race and representation vis-a-vis True Love.

    1. Thanks for your question, Susan! I answer your first thought in the answer above. As to your last query, I think a critique of race in “True Love” is entirely possible, contrasting Farro’s life experience and the situation of early African American settlers in Chicago to the life of comparative privilege the white characters experience in her novel. At the same time, knowing as I do that Farro is really describing Chicago and doesn’t intend the English setting to be explicitly authentic, I feel like that explanation has to come first. And yes, she’s definitely using this novel for autobiographic as well as social purposes, so it’s challenging for a 21st century reader to grasp the true purposes of her novel’s message even when the clues start leading somewhere…

  3. I’d like to say that I enjoy your methodical approach, because you liberate Sarah E. Farro from being (only) a “mold”, and you gave her individuality back (something which should be ‘normal’, but which isn’t really, always, the case, it seems to me) Thank you!!

    1. What an encouraging thing to say! Thank you so much – that is a very important goal in this research project.

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