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Oxford University Press to publish graphic history

September 2, 2011, New York — Oxford University Press, the world's leading academic publisher, is set to venture into uncharted territory with a new project from Trevor Getz and Liz Clarke. The pair have written and illustrated, respectively, a history told in graphic form. OUP has long set the high-water mark for excellence in its historical writing, both for a scholarly and lay audience. The graphic history, titled Abina and the Important Men, is truly a first in the realm of historical non-fiction.

"Put quite frankly, there is nothing like this available in African History. It is a path-breaking approach for the field." — Jonathan T. Reynolds, Northern Kentucky University, professor of African history

The story of Abina Mansah—a woman "without history" who was wrongfully enslaved, escapes to British-controlled territory, and then takes her former master to court—takes place in the complex world of the Gold Coast at the onset of late nineteenth-century colonialism. Slavery becomes a contested ground, as cultural practices collide with an emerging wage economy and British officials turn a blind eye to the presence of underpaid domestic workers in the households of African merchants. The main scenes of the story take place in the courtroom, where Abina strives to convince a series of "important men"—a British judge, two Euro-African attorneys, a wealthy African country "gentleman," and a jury of local leaders—that her rights matter. "Am I free?" Abina inquires.

Throughout both the court case and the flashbacks that dramatically depict her life in servitude, the important men strive to "silence" Abina and to impose their own understandings and meanings upon her. The story seems to conclude with the short-term success of the "important men," as Abina loses her case. But it doesn't end there: Abina is eventually redeemed. Her testimony is uncovered in the dusty archives by Trevor Getz and becomes a graphic history, designed by Liz Clarke, which is read by people around the world. In this way, the reader becomes an active part of the story along with the illustrator, the author, and Abina herself.

By incorporating a narrative flow with historical documents, Abina and the Important Men creates an innovative approach towards history as both a discipline and an art form. Oxford University Press is proud to be publishing this work and looks forward to continuing challenging the conventions of teachable history.

"I hope that this book will serve as a model to many historians with compelling stories to tell. To tell our stories in a compelling and unconventional way does not mean that rigorous scholarship needs to be compromised. Rather, it shows that rigorous scholarship can go hand in hand with speaking to multiple audiences." — Heather Streets, Washington State University, professor of world history

For more information, please contact Robert Wicks at robert.wicks@oup.com, 212-726-6033.

Abina and the Important Men
A Graphic History

By Liz Clarke and Trevor R. Getz will be published by Oxford University Press in paperback
on September 2, 2011
(208 Pages | $15.95 | ISBN: 9780199844395)



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