Dr Rosie Knight

M.A., Ph.D. (University of Reading)

Lecturer in American History

History of slavery, gender, and race in the American south

rosie.knight@sheffield.ac.uk

+44 (0)114 22 22603 | Jessop West 3.16

Semester Two 2018/19 Office Hours: Mondays 16:00-17:00 and Thursdays 12:00-13:00

Profile

Biography

Rosie completed her PhD in History at the University of Reading, where she also completed her MA and BA, including a semester at the University of Mississippi. Her research focuses on the relationships between enslaved women and female slaveholders, mothering, and the slaveholding household in the American south. Rosie’s work has been supported by grants from the British Library Eccles Centre, the British Association for American Studies, the British American Nineteenth Century Historians, and the Royal Historical Society among others. Before coming to Sheffield she taught at the University of Reading, and most recently, as a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Westminster.

Research

Research

Rosie’s current research project examines mothering under slavery, both as an enslaved, and enslaving, mother. Southern motherhood has often been characterised by its commonalities, regionality, and ability to foster inter-racial bonds. Mother, Home, and Mammy pursues a different approach, and utilising intersectionality, foregrounds the relationalities of enslaved and slaveholding women’s mothering. In particular, this book explores the roles of white women in enslaved women’s exploitation as mothers through their extensive interventions into enslaved women’s bearing and raising of children; both on the basis of their own motherhoods and on the basis of enslaved women’s, casual and routinised, from conception long into the life of a child. These wide-ranging interventions reveal much of the economic, social, and emotional dynamics of women’s relationships, mother-work, and the slaveholding household. Rosie uses the case-study of infant-feeding practice to provide in-depth analysis of the inequalities women faced as mothers and their interrelationships on structural and social levels.

This book is based upon her doctoral research, and draws extensively upon interviews with formerly enslaved African Americans and the correspondence and diaries of white female enslavers, among other sources. Articles and presentations associated with this project have explored infant-feeding, medicine, and inequality; childhood under slavery; and the values, exchange, and politics of mother-work.

This project reflects Rosie’s ongoing interest in the roles white women have taken, and continue to take, in racist social systems. Her new project focuses on the racial and economic dynamics of white women’s care-work in the system of slavery, its development, and effects; examining what Hazel V. Carby termed 'the gender-specific mechanisms of racism' in the context of the American south.

She is interested in opportunities for knowledge-exchange and collaboration, and has been a member of the British American Nineteenth Century Historians (BrANCH) committee since 2014; worked on the AHRC-funded international 'Mothering Slaves' network in 2015-16; and participated in the Heidelberg Center for American Studies Spring Academy in 2017.

Research Supervision

Rosie welcomes proposals for research projects from students interested in the history of slavery, women, and race-relations in the American south.

Current students:

  • Joseph Nowland (second supervisor) - A Lawless Land?: Crime, Violence and the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance, 1845 - 1865.

All current students by supervisor | PhD study in History

Research Supervision

 

Publications

Publications

  • R.J. Knight, ‘Mistresses, Motherhood, and Maternal Exploitation in the Antebellum South’, Women's History Review, <DOI:10.1080/09612025.2017.1336847> forthcoming in print, 2018
  • E.R. West with R.J. Knight, ‘Mother’s Milk: Slavery, Wet-Nursing, and Black and White Women in the Antebellum South’, Journal of Southern History, 83, 1 (Feb. 2017), 37-68
Teaching

Module Leader

Rosie will be offering a special subject from 2019-20, provisionally entitled 'Constructing and Contesting Slavery in North America'’, as well as the MA option 'Gender and Slavery in the American South.'

HST296 Becoming America, 1690-1763

This module investigates the proposition that modern America took shape in the period 1690-1763, prior to and, as we will consider, in many ways productive of the transformation often associated with the era of the American Revolution. The module will consider primary sources and associated secondary debates relating to five key themes: ethnic diversity and religious pluralism, geographic dispersal, the growth of domestic and international market economies, the emergence of popular, partisan politics, and the reconfiguration of notions of power, authority, and control. The module considers longstanding and emerging historiographical debates, including but not limited to the prevalence and manifestations of monarchical versus liberal political culture, anglicisation and colonial consumption, and geography/regionalism and periodization in colonial American history.

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HST6042 Presenting the Past: Making History Public

The primary focus of this module is the interpretation and creation of 'public history'. The module will enablse students to reflect on the issues involved in disseminating history outside academia and develop communication and presentation skills for audiences outside higher education.

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Lecturer

HST112 Paths from Antiquity to Modernity

Taking you from the height of the Roman Empire to the Fall of the Berlin Wall, this module is an introduction to the dominant narrative of History, from a European perspective (though the module ventures widely beyond Europe when appropriate). Each lecture looks at a particular historical ‘turning point’, while the weekly seminar takes a more thematic approach, tackling historical notions such as revolutions, progress, globalisation and renaissance. By the end of the module, you’ll have a sense of the broad sweep of History, fascinating in itself but particularly useful for single and dual honours students as preparation for more detailed study at Levels II and III. You will also have an appreciation of the importance of periodisation (how historians divide up time), and the problematic concept of modernity. This module is explicitly intended to aid with the transition to the study of History at University.

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HST202 Historians and History

This module introduces students to some of the most influential and significant developments which have shaped the ways in which historians think about and write about the past. Since History became professionalised as a specific academic discipline in the nineteenth century, historians have adopted a variety of different approaches to their studies. For some, ideas about the past have been shaped by political beliefs, by the application of political ideologies and philosophies, and by the desire to produce a more inclusive version of history, focusing on the experience of the working classes, women, and groups marginalised in established accounts. Others have been influenced by different methods of research, and the opportunities offered by particular types of source material to tell different stories about the past. Others still have been inspired by intellectual theories and by borrowings from other disciplines, like literary studies and anthropology, to explore new ways of thinking about history. The module allows students to think more about the different ways in which we can study History, and to engage with the work of a number of historians whose influence can still be felt today.

It aims to equip students with the necessary background to develop a more critical approach to the secondary literature which they encounter throughout their degree course and to build bridges between the various modules they are studying at levels 2 and 3.

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HST3306 A Comparative History of Revolution

History has seen a vast number of conflicts which have been labelled revolutions, often resulting in a significant transformation of the social, economic and political landscapes of entire societies, questioning the underlying assumptions regarding values and legitimacy, as well as creating new vocabularies which come to permeate political language. The module will cover both a selection of specific Revolutions (the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Glorious Revolution, …) as well as comparatively examining themes which can apply across more than one revolution, such as violence, legitimacy, or class and social change. It will also explore questions such as why certain events are labelled revolutions and others civil wars, the extent to which revolutions are ‘conscious’ and ‘modern’, and the implications of the use of revolutionary vocabulary in specific contexts. The module will not be confined to specifically political and military revolutions, but will also look at other examples such as the industrial revolution and the green revolution. Students will have the opportunity to engage in comparison between case studies directly covered in the module, alongside of any others which they chose from among the vast range of possibilities in world history.

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Public Engagement

Public Engagement

To follow

Administrative Duties

Administrative Duties

To follow