Welcome to Transatlantic Agency, Charmaine Nelson!  Charmaine has a truly extraordinary story to tell, that of Joe, the Pressman. Joe was born in Africa and survived the transatlantic crossing, only to be sold into slavery in British North America in 1768. From the meagre and heart-rending evidence we have of Joe’s life – five fugitive slave advertisements – Charmaine Nelson puts together his remarkable story: how William Dunlap, the postmaster general of Philadelphia, sold him to William Brown, the owner of a newspaper in Quebec City, and how Joe used to his advantage his work as the man who ran the press. A veritable prisoner in Brown’s print shop, Joe’s work on the newspaper required his fluency in both French and English, unlike most slaves for whom literacy was illegal. Joe would exploit this knowledge and the information gained from the social hub of the print shop to plan his many escapes, and he thus became one of the most resistant enslaved people ever documented in the Americas. For readers of Frederick Douglass and Never Caught, Joe the Pressman: How an African Born Man Refused a Life of Slavery brings to life a northern site of slavery, about which far less has been written than the South. Readers follow Joe as he grows from a frighten child captured in Africa to a multi-lingual literate man of great skill, intelligence, fortitude, and bravery. Proposal with four full chapters available.

Charmaine Nelson is a Professor of Art History at McGill University, and an accomplished scholar, writer, and public intellectual.  She received her PhD in Art History from the University of Manchester (UK) in 2001, and has taught at McGill University since 2003. Nelson’s research and teaching interests include postcolonial and black feminist scholarship, Transatlantic Slavery Studies, and Black Diaspora Studies. Among her many awards and distinctions is the position of William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies at Harvard University in 2017-18. Charmaine Nelson lives in Montreal.