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A Game on the High Seas Lecture
October 12, 2017 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
A story of the chance encounter on a ship between the original Siamese Twins, Chang and Eng, and the son of a fugitive slave in the wake of the American Civil War.
When: Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 7pm
Doors open to SBMM Members at 6:15pm and Non-members at 6:45pm
Tickets: $5 (SBMM members) • $15 (non-members)
Register here or call the Museum Store: 805-456-8747
Sponsored by Marie L. Morrisroe
Supported by Silvio Di Loreto (in memoriam)
A Guggenheim Fellow, Yunte Huang is a professor of English at UCSB and the author of CHARLIE CHAN (2010), which won the Edgar Award and was the finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography.
A GAME ON THE HIGH SEAS will be based on Huang’s forthcoming book, Inseparable: The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous with American History (Liveright, 2018). The book draws a portrait of Chang and Eng Bunker (1811–1874), twins conjoined at the sternum by a band of cartilage and a fused liver, who were “discovered” in Siam by a British merchant in 1824. Bringing an Asian American perspective to this almost implausible story, Huang depicts the twins, arriving in Boston in 1829, first as museum exhibits but later as financially savvy showmen who gained their freedom and traveled the backroads of rural America to bring “entertainment” to the Jacksonian mobs. Their rise from subhuman, freak-show celebrities to rich southern gentry; their marriage to two white sisters, resulting in twenty-one children; and their owning of slaves, is here not just another sensational biography but a Hawthorne-like excavation of America’s historical penchant for finding feast in the abnormal, for tyrannizing the “other”―a tradition that, as Huang reveals, becomes inseparable from American history itself.