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Michael Drexler

Professor of English

Bucknell University

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About

I teach classes on 18th- and 19-Century American Literature. My scholarship concerns slavery and slave resistance before the Civil War.

I have focused on the Haitian Revolution and its aftermath in much of my work. I am now working on fugitive slave narratives and stretching into the late 19th Century to explore their influence upon formal changes in American fiction, for example limited first person perspective. I am also working on a novel that is tangentially related to John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859. My PhD is from Brown University and my A.B. from Cornell. Courses I teach include US/Fever Fantasy Desire, Melville and Monotheism, The Human Motor of American Realism, Early American Literature, Fugitive Slave Narratives, and Public Speaking. I enjoy boating on the Susquehanna River, playing guitar, slot cars, and being with my wife and kids. My favorite book i s Absalom! Absalom! though Moby Dick is a close second. Authors I regularly teach include Charles Brockden Brown, Leonora Sansay, Tabitha Tenney, Hannah Webster Foster, Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Charles Chesnutt, among others. I’m interested in Psychoanalytic- and Marxist Theory.
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Beyond Douglass

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The Traumatic Colonel: Slavery, the Founding Fathers, and the Phantasmatic Aaron Burr

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The Haitian Revolution and the Early United States

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Blog

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  • 14 Sep 2017
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  • 12 Sep 2017
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  • 8 Sep 2017
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Overemphasizing 1619?

Here’s an important article from The Smithsonian Magazine about the consequences of framing long historical processes. In this case, Michael Guasco explores what is meaningful about the arrival of “20. and odd Negroes” at Jamestown and the answer is not much. Guasco makes several insightful observations. Europeans had trafficked in African men, women, and children for at least 100 years before 1619. They had also relied on African and Caribbean locals for knowledge about tobacco planting and other necessary skills for transforming the landscape and sustaining life on the “wisp of America” precariously held by English settlers. Most importantly, Guasco reminds us that Europeans were not “at home” in the Americas in the 16th and 17th centuries. The narrative of the arrival of Black people in 1619 makes it seem as though the Jamestown settlers received the Africans into a stable community. In reality, the English were barely hanging on. They were but the advance guard of English colonizers that would systematical dispossess African and indigenous North American Indians from their lands. And it is worth noting that the Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese joined the English in creating the transatlantic trade networks that depended on African labor. Finally, the story of 1619 silences not only the voices and agency of the “20. and odd Negroes” but also those of “the more than 500,000 African men, women, and children who had already crossed the Atlantic against their will.”

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Michael J Drexler for School Board

Welcome to my website! I am running for a 4 year term on the Lewisburg Area School District School Board. Check back for updates! You can find out more about me here.

I have three kids in Lewisburg schools: Hannah (sophomore), Mariah (5th grade), and Caleb (3rd grade). Here’s a picture, one of my favorites though now a few years past. They grow up so fast!

Kimberley and I both grew up in Indiana. We met in high school. We moved to Lewisburg in 2003.

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What I’m Reading Now

E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime is brilliant and sets the bar high for anyone writing historical novels. Doctorow weaves fictional and real-world protagonists together seamlessly into his setting–the first decade of the 20th century in New York City. In Ragtime Houdini is a major character and corporate giants Henry Ford and J. P. Morgan along with well known socialites also fill the bill. But Doctorow’s genius rests on his creation of characters from other social strata than the elite. Some of these are real, too. Emma Goldman makes a cameo; but the most powerful are more ordinary: Tateh and his daughter are Jewish immigrants scratching out a living in the tenements on the Lower Eastside; Coalhouse Walker is a rising African-American musician, whose abuse at the hands of the fire department of New Rochelle turns him to violent reprisal; and the central family–unnamed but for Father, Mother, boy, and Younger Brother–runs a fireworks factory. Father joined Robert Peary’s expedition to the Pole, but that can’t save him from the quotidian challenges of married life at home. I have always loved Doctorow. One of my favorites is The Book of Daniel, a loose roman a clef about the children of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were infamously electrocuted for supposedly giving the secrets about the atom-bomb to the Russians toward the end of WWII. Again, the real-life figures are important, but mostly as structuring devices to allow Doctorow to explore the psychic lives of those affected by the signal events of their historical moment.

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