Dynamic and Interdisciplinary Interpretation of Anna Williams' Story

Dynamic and Interdisciplinary Interpretation of Anna Williams' Story Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dynamic New Interpretation of Anna Williams' Story
Dynamic New Interpretation of Anna Williams' Story

 University of Nebraska-Lincoln historian William G. Thomas, a team of Husker artists and scholars have made a significant discovery regarding the true story of an enslaved woman called Anna. Using all their different backgrounds they are creating a new interpretation of Anna’s life. The short film is based on the screenplay by Kwakiutl Dreher, associate professor of English and ethnic studies.

The film is about a woman named Anna Williams, she became famous because of jumping out a window from a three story window in Washington, D.C in November 1815. It was thought she had died because of that jump and everyone assumed it was to escape slavery. Thomas and other scholars confirmed that Anna Williams survived her jump and won her freedom 17 years later. Although the details about Anna’s life are sparse. Dreher, a literary scholar and playwright, agreed to flesh out Anna’s character and motivations.

Dreher’s classes on African-American literature often include slave narratives.

“I wasn’t familiar with this specific story, but I know about black women and slavery,” she said.

While the film is only an interpretation of Anna’s life, it does reflect factual historical analysis and material culture research. It accurately shows slavery as it existed in Maryland in the early 19th Century.

“We wanted to illuminate a life for ‘Anna,’ while remaining faithful to the historical record,” Thomas said.

There are many contributors that have helped finance this film, that budget includes an arts and humanities enhancement grant from the university, as well as contributions from the College of Education and Human Sciences, the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts, the Department of History and the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design. As well as an internet crowdfunding campaign that was created to pay three student workers.


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