The Dark Side of Gentility: Race and Masculine Becoming at 18th-century Harvard College

Author(s): Christina Hodge

Year: 2018


Materialities of gentility drew captured and enslaved Africans and African-Americans into the production of white male privilege one of its most iconic incubators, colonial Harvard College. During the long 18th century, the Cambridge, Massachusetts, institution was an intercultural, interracial, intergenerational space of becoming. Archaeological finds and documentary archives clarify how gentility was moralized in this religiously orthodox community, emerging as a tool of racialization and masculinization alongside status. This paper focuses on the hybrid institutional/domestic spaces of Wadsworth House (presidents’ dwelling) and student chambers. In these intimate contexts, intersectionality and bell hooks’ concept of homeplace strengthen perceptions of African subjectivities within an overwhelmingly English archive. This study is salient to America’s long history of respectability politics and the gendering and racializing of privilege. It also introduces methodological inversion as a tactic of counter narrative/archaeology by studying materialities of colonial white male privilege through postcolonial and black feminist theories.

Cite this Record

The Dark Side of Gentility: Race and Masculine Becoming at 18th-century Harvard College. Christina Hodge. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441770)

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Temporal Keywords
18th Century

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 249