About

Historian, educator, and writer, Charlene J. Fletcher holds a Ph.D. in History from Indiana University, specializing in 19th century United States and African American history and gender studies.

Currently, Charlene is the ACLS Emerging Voices Postdoctoral Research Associate at Brown University’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice. Prior to attending IU, Charlene led a domestic violence/sexual assault program as well as a large reentry initiative in New York City, assisting women and men in their transition from incarceration to society and also served as a lecturer of Criminal Justice at LaGuardia Community College and an adjunct lecturer in Global and Historical Studies at Butler University.

Charlene’s research and forthcoming book explores the experiences of confined African-American women in Kentucky from Reconstruction to the Progressive Era, specifically illuminating the lives of confined Black women by examining places other than carceral locales as arenas of confinement, including mental health institutions and domestic spaces. She seeks to explore how these women both defied and defined confinement through their incarceration, interactions with public, social, and political entities of the period, as well as how they challenged ideas of race and femininity.

Charlene’s work is motivated by her personal and professional experiences — particularly her work with individuals and families impacted by domestic violence and incarceration — and these experiences continue to fuel her passion for her work today.

Research

Charlene’s  research explores the experiences of confined African-American women in Kentucky from Reconstruction to the Progressive Era, specifically illuminating the lives of confined black women by examining places other than carceral locales as arenas of confinement, including mental health asylums and domestic spaces. She seeks to explore how these women both defied and defined confinement through their incarceration, interactions with public, social and political entities of the period, as well as how they challenged Victorian ideas of race and femininity and shaped prison and political reform in Kentucky. Charlene is determined to give voice to those silenced by the historical record with hopes that sharing these histories will foster healing in the 21st century and beyond.

“When we speak, we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So, it is better to speak.” 

Audre Lorde

Background images courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society and the Capital City Museum, Frankfort, Kentucky.

Teaching

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.” – Audre Lorde

Charlene’s teacher training began behind the walls of the Queensboro Correctional Facility within the New York Department of Correctional Services. She facilitated re-entry classes for cohorts of men preparing for release, family reunification, and the transition to society. Although this introduction to the classroom was not the traditional academic space, it allowed her to engage with and learn from one of the most underserved populations in the country. Knowing first-hand the history and experiences of incarcerated students, Charlene transitioned to the formal classroom at LaGuardia Community College to train the next generation of criminal justice providers.

Feminist poet and scholar Audre Lorde inspires Charlene’s teaching philosophy as she envisions the classroom as a space for fostering community, promoting learning, and inciting change. She wants learners to be able to think critically, challenge their beliefs and politics through the engagement of comparable and opposing sources of information, confidently defend their positions, and to practically apply the knowledge attained in other disciplines or life experiences.

Public History & Publications

Everything has a history and those stories should be accessible to everyone. With this in mind, Charlene has several public history initiatives and publications that are listed below:

 

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Charlene currently serves as consulting historian for the Oldest Profession Podcast. Each episode of the Oldest Profession focuses on an “old pro” from history, contextualizing that figure in their own time and connecting their story to the ongoing struggle for sex worker rights. The Oldest Profession Podcast is a public history project elevating sex worker stories.

 

AHR InterviewWhile serving as an editorial assistant for the American Historical Review, Charlene conducted several awesome interviews for the journal’s podcast, AHR Interview. The first was with Dr. Elizabeth Hinton of Harvard University on the future of carceral studies and the second was a series of interviews with historians about the impact of the blockbuster hit Black Panther. 

AHR Interview: Elizabeth Hinton Discusses Carceral Studies and Scholarly Activism

AHR Interview: Tanisha Ford on the Film Black Panther

AHR Interview: Nwando Achebe on the Film Black Panther

AHR Interview: Andre Carrington on the Film Black Panther

AHR Interview: Sean Jacobs on the Film Black Panther

 

leaninlogotransIn partnership with the Louisville Free Public Library and Lean Into Louisville’s efforts to explore, discuss, and address histories of inequality, Charlene presented an interactive talk about family violence in 19th century domestic spaces and recounted the lives of Fannie Keys Harvey and Lila B. White, African American women  who were incarcerated at the Kentucky Penitentiary after fighting back against their abusive families. Using their stories, Charlene reflected on acts of resistance and brings awareness to this dark chapter of history. The talk, “Home Ain’t Always Where the Heart Is: Women, Confinement, and Race in the Gilded Age,” can be found here. 

Publications

Book Chapter

Forthcoming

“Home Ain’t Always Where the Heart Is: The Home as a Site of Confinement,” in Re-visiting My Old Kentucky Home: Slavery and Freedom in the Bluegrass State (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, forthcoming). 

Dissertation

2020

“Confined Femininity: Race, Gender, and Incarceration in Kentucky, 1865-1920.” Indiana University.

Book Reviews

Fletcher-Brown, C.  Review of Liberty’s Prisoners: Carceral Culture in Early America, by Jen Manion, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, 115, no. 3 (Summer 2017): 419-421.

Web-Based Publications

Fletcher-Brown, Charlene. “Early Stories of Domestic Violence Raise Awareness, Foster Healing.” The Blog of the Kentucky Historical Society. November 4, 2016. 

Fletcher-Brown, C. Multiple Submissions in Significant People in African American History, BlackPast.org, (2014-2015).

Fletcher-Brown, C. “The Palmer Raids” in 1914-1918 Online: International Encyclopedia of the First World War. (2014)

Fletcher-Brown, C. “U.S. Race Riots” 1914-1918 Online: International Encyclopedia of the First World War, (2014).

Connect

Let’s get in touch!

To book a talk, research inquiries, or other media requests, contact Charlene via email, and also follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Email at hello@charlenejfletcher.com

or follow Charlene

Background images courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society and the Capital City Museum, Frankfort, Kentucky