Lessons From the Past

Ohio Wesleyan Graduate, Award-Winning Author Koritha Mitchell, Ph.D., to Speak Feb. 7 at University

By Cole Hatcher

Koritha Mitchell '96

DELAWARE, Ohio – Koritha Mitchell, award-winning author, feminist scholar, and cultural critic, will present "What if Americans Had Listened to Black Women of the 1800s?" when she speaks Feb. 7 at Ohio Wesleyan University.

A 1996 OWU graduate and professor of English at The Ohio State University, Mitchell, Ph.D., will speak at 4:15 p.m. Feb. 7 in the Benes Rooms of Ohio Wesleyan's Hamilton-Williams Campus Center, 40 Rowland Ave., Delaware.

She is the author of two books: "Living with Lynching," which won awards from the American Theatre and Drama Society and from the Society for the Study of American Women Writers, and of "From Slave Cabins to the White House: Homemade Citizenship in African American Culture," which was named a Best Book of 2020 by Ms. Magazine and Black Perspectives and a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title in 2021.

Mitchell also is the editor of an edition of Frances E.W. Harper's 1892 novel "Iola Leroy" and of "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" by Harriet Jacobs, which became the first book-length autobiography by a formerly enslaved African American woman when first published in 1861.

Mitchell says her Ohio Wesleyan presentation will feature insights gleaned from editing Jacobs' writing while simultaneously witnessing the U.S. Supreme Court's commitment to ending abortion access and limiting the right to vote.

Jacobs' book sheds light on 19th-century Black women and, in the process, Mitchell explains, exposes American culture's fundamental beliefs as the nation built its foundation on treating Black women not as people but as chattels, moveable pieces of property. Even while enslaved, Mitchell says, Jacobs exemplified the critical thinking of engaged citizenship.

A first-generation college graduate, Mitchell also frequently comments in the media with her insights having appeared in outlets including Time, The Washington Post, CNN, Good Morning America, The Huffington Post, NBC News, PBS Newshour, and NPR's Morning Edition. Learn more at www.korithamitchell.com.

Her OWU presentation represents the university's 2023-2024 Katherine Kearney Carpenter Lecture, sponsored by the OWU Department of English. The Carpenter Lecture Series was established in 1967 with an endowment from the late O. William Carpenter in honor of his wife, Katherine Kearney Carpenter.

Previous Carpenter Lecturers include Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom Carol Ann Duffy; National Book Award winners Ta-Nehisi Coates, William Stafford, Tim O'Brien, Amy Tan, and Joyce Carol Oates; 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Seamus Heaney; New York Times bestselling essayist Leslie Jamison; Nobel Prize-winning poet-playwright Derek Walcott; and former U.S. Poet Laureate Howard Nemerov. Other writers in the series have included Carlos Fuentes, Russell Banks, Tobias Wolff, and Kurt Vonnegut.

Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan's Department of English at owu.edu/English.


Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation's premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 70 undergraduate majors and competes in 24 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through its signature experience, the OWU Connection, Ohio Wesleyan teaches students to understand issues from multiple academic perspectives, volunteer in service to others, build a diverse and global perspective, and translate classroom knowledge into real-world experience through internships, research, and other hands-on learning. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book "Colleges That Change Lives" and included on the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review "Best Colleges" lists. Connect with OWU expert interview sources at owu.edu/experts or learn more at owu.edu