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The Humanities Center continues its Conversations and Cocktails series at 6 p.m. Tuesday, February 21, with a look at how dress and other physical adornments helped define social identity in 18th-century Virginia.

The guest scholar is Hope Smith, a doctoral student in anthropology.

The talk is at Holly’s Gourmet Market and Café, 5107 Kingston Pike.

Dinner reservations are required and seating is limited. Call 865-330-0123 to make a reservation.

Conversations and Cocktails—presented in partnership with Holly’s Gourmet’s Market and Café—provides an opportunity to participate in stimulating conversation with guest scholars while enjoying special dinner and appetizer selections.

Located within the College of Arts and Sciences, the Humanities Center is dedicated to facilitating and improving research opportunities in humanities and disciplines. The center supports faculty fellows and graduate students whose work explores what it means to be human, how we are connected through our past, and the freedom and liberty we deserve. Current research covers a variety of subjects ranging from the radicalization of religious difference in the Middle East to remaking the US and Mexican countryside in the 20th century.

Smith’s talk is titled “Adorned Identities: An Archaeological Perspective on Race in 18th-century Virginia.”

“Institutionalized slavery helped to create the concept of race in the American mind and forced people into new social categories based on superficial bodily characteristics,” Smith’s abstract says. “People used dress, adornment, and physical action to negotiate, reinforce, or challenge these new identities. Hope Smith combines an archaeological analysis of clothing and adornment artifacts with a close reading of mass-produced satirical prints and runaway slave advertisements to reveal how 18th-century Virginians, both free and enslaved, negotiated multiple identities within the confines of this system.”

Other Conservations and Cocktails talks include:

  • March 21—Daniel Magilow, associate professor of German: “Using and Abusing the Memory of the Holocaust”
  • April 11—Luke Harlow, associate professor of history: “Religion and the Meaning of Civil War Emancipation”
  • May 9—Rachelle Scott, associate professor and associate head of religious studies: “Buddhism, Capitalism, and the Politics of Identity in Contemporary Thailand”

For more information on the Humanities Center, visit its website.


Joan Murray (865-974-4222,