Discover Auburn lecture explores race in sheet music illustrations

Published: October 06, 2022

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At the next Discover Auburn Lecture Series program, visiting scholar Theresa Leininger-Miller, professor of Art History, University of Cincinnati examines the persuasive power of widely circulated art and design featured on music covers at the turn of the 20th century in a program titled "Imprinted: Racial Perceptions in Illustrated Sheet Music, 1880s-1930s." The program will be held in the Caroline Marshall Draughon Auditorium on the ground floor of the Ralph Brown Draughon Library at 3 p.m. on Oct. 13, 2022.

In the first part of the program, "Are They Equal in the Eyes of the Law?: African American Soldiers in Illustrated Sheet Music of World War I", Leininger-Miller analyzes music covers promoting racial uplift by white illustrators, and compositions by both black and white songwriters. With their bold graphics, vivid and contrasting colors, and emotional pull, they were designed to attract buyers, offer comfort and hope, improve race relations, and make the Great War for Democracy a legal reality. The second part of the program explores works in the Piano Bench Collection at AU Libraries. As the Department of Art & Art History’s first Visiting Scholar Diversity Fellow Leininger-Miller will study how illustrators envisioned and marketed compositions by two highly influential people of color, Lili’uokalani (1838-1917), the only queen of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and W.C. Handy (1873-1958), the “Father of the Blues.”

The public is welcome. Those unable to attend in person may attend on Zoom at

Submitted by: Jayson Hill