Morgan, Jennifer L. (Jennifer Lyle Morgan)
Morgan, Jennifer L. (Jennifer Lyle Morgan)
Daughter of John P. (professor of pharmacology at the City University of New York Medical School) and Claudia B. (former project director for the Settlement Housing Fund for the City of New York) Morgan; married Herman Lee Bennett (a historian), 1993. Education: Oberlin College, B.A., 1986; Duke University, Ph.D., 1995.
New York University, New York, NY, associate professor. Also taught at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.
American Historical Association, Berkshire Conference of Women's Historians, McNeil Center for Early American Studies.
Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery, University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, PA), 2004.
Contributor to books, including Money, Trade, and Power: The Evolution of Colonial South Carolina's Plantation Society, edited by Jack P. Greene, Rosemary Brana-Shute, and Randy Sparks, University of South Carolina Press (Columbia, SC), 2000; and A Companion to American Women's History, edited by Nancy Hewitt, Blackwell (Malden, MA), 2002. Contributor to scholarly journals, including William and Mary Quarterly.
In Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery, history professor Jennifer L. Morgan examines the dual roles played by female slaves in the British American colonies. Unlike male slaves, female slaves were often subjected to sexual as well as labor exploitation, and the offspring of these relationships were themselves placed in slavery. One result of this form of exploitation was the creation of a slave-based society in which enslaved women were valued as much for their ability to bear children as for their ability to bear burdens. "In many respects," Morgan wrote in an interview published on the Common-Place: Ask the Author Web site: "I had accepted a slightly retrograde position regarding the lives of women—despite a high comfort level with feminism and feminist theory, I'd managed to incorporate an unproblematized notion of reproduction as ‘less than,’ as apolitical, as the space outside of the Real. I suppose that, in part, I believed that the truly revisionist gesture would be to refuse an overly determinist and embodied association between women and the domestic sphere." "I wanted to understand the lives of enslaved women as laborers," Morgan concluded, "and to think about the ways that their gender identity may or may not have crafted a particular response to their enslavement and to the world of work around them."
In Laboring Women, "Morgan defines labor in terms of these women's reproductive capacity as well as the types of physical labor in which they were forced to engage," explained Christina S. Haynes in a review of the volume written for the Journal of African American History. "While developing her discussion, she examines issues—the creation of negative stereotypes, labor demands, resistance—to illustrate the importance of enslaved women not just as a subject to include in the study of slavery, but as a paradigm for understanding the formation of early American slave societies." The two shared commonalities (motherhood and physical labor), the author suggests, formed a place in which enslaved women could communicate and create a very different slave experience than that undergone by African American men. For Morgan, stated Cara Anzilotti, writing in the Historian, "gender [serves] as a lens through which better to understand the establishment of race-based slavery in Britain's colonies in the Caribbean and North America. Jennifer L. Morgan considers both production and reproduction in analyzing the role of black women in the colonial economic and social system, and examines the double burden of exploitation that enslavement imposed on them."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, April, 2005, Barbara Bush, review of Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery, p. 442.
Americas: A Quarterly Review of Inter-American Cultural History, April, 2006, Elizabeth W. Kiddy, review of Laboring Women, p. 702.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, January, 2005, S.N. Roth, review of Laboring Women, p. 917.
Feminist Review, spring, 2006, Diana Paton, review of Laboring Women.
Historian, fall, 2006, Cara Anzilotti, review of Laboring Women.
Journal of African American History, fall, 2005, Christina S. Haynes, review of Laboring Women.
Journal of American History, June, 2005, Marie Jenkins Schwartz, review of Laboring Women, p. 195.
New York Times, August 1, 1993, "Weddings; Jennifer L. Morgan, Herman L. Bennett."
Reviews in American History, March, 2005, "Enslaved African Women in the Minds of English Men and in English Colonial America," p. 41.
William and Mary Quarterly, July, 2005, Jennifer M. Spear, review of Laboring Women, p. 536.
Arts & Science Department, New York University Web site,http://as.nyu.edu/ (May 8, 2008), author profile.
Common-Place: Ask the Author,http://www.commonplace.org/ (May 8, 2008), author interview.