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Kristen Laciste presented a paper at the Early Modern Center’s 2017 annual conference at the University of California, Santa Barbara

Film still from Belle, directed by Amma Asante, 2013
June 26, 2017

Kristen Laciste presented her paper, entitled, “From Maidservant to Anomalous Aristocrat: Imaging and Imagining Dido Elizabeth Belle” at the Early Modern Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The theme of the conference was "Transience, Garbage, Excess, Loss: The Ephemeral, 1500-1800." Kristen’s paper examines the double portrait of cousins, entitled, Dido Elizabeth Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray. Executed during the late 1770s to early 1780s, this painting is truly an anomaly in eighteenth-century British art, depicting two aristocratic women, one black and one white. Over time, the former’s identity was lost until a historian delved into documents revealing the true identity of Dido Elizabeth Belle. The painting inspired the 2013 film, Belle, written by Misan Sagay and directed by Amma Asante. Though the original painting and film version are nearly identical, Kristen’s paper compares the two, considering the implications of the slight alterations of the latter.

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