Maggie Howie, BITC project manager for Foleshill and the city's Education Action Zone, said: "We wanted to provide a day when unemployed people from Foleshill could go behind the scenes and find out what it was like with those employers, as well as picking up general information that will help them to find work.
BLAZING A TRAIL: Claire Miller (left) and Kam Mann try on fire helmets during the first Behind the Scenes visits.
As the reviews, parody, and community's reaction reveal, the attacks on Keckley were so severe that her life was never the same after she published Behind the Scenes.
Without an understanding of the connections between the slave narrative elements of Keckley's work and the revelations about Mary Todd Lincoln's life, Behind the Scenes seems disunified, even to the point of being taken over by Mary Todd Lincoln's story for the majority of the text.
Behind the Scenes becomes, then, among other things, a means by which Keckley can go public with her anger.
The parody of Behind the Scenes makes it clear that Keckley's decision to enter into the public sphere of commodity as author and modiste threatened some whites, as it repeatedly attacks Keckley for supposedly lying to make money, and ends by deriding her entrance into commodity culture.
As Behind the Scenes demonstrates, slavery forced most African American women into the commodified realm, while at the same time relegating many white women (at least symbolically or ideally) to the home, a sphere envisioned as removed from the marketplace and crowned with sincerity and gentility.
Therefore, Behind the Scenes cannot be read solely as an unproblematic representation of Keckley's triumphant rise from property to proprietor.
The juxtaposition of Keckley's and Lincoln's lives becomes more evident when one considers the tension between privacy and revelation in Behind the Scenes.
As Zafar argues, Behind the Scenes contains an "intriguing double-veiling" that can be found in the writing of other African American women, as the authors "withdraw the veil from the frivolous and self-centered nature of their white women employers at the same time they draw the veil over their own lives" (154).
One manual, Etiquette at Washington: and Complete Guide through the Metropolis and its Environs, published eleven years before Behind the Scenes, instructed readers in what Halttunen calls an "unusually explicit statement of the theatrical nature" of the hostess's task that "the internal machinery of a household, like that portion of the theater 'behind the scenes,' should [ldots] be studiously kept out of view" (qtd.
When one considers "the laws of polite social geography" in general and the idea that the household's machinery was to be kept behind the scenes in particular, one begins to realize the subversive implications of Keckley's title.
Interestingly, Keckley deflects her decision to go behind the scenes and reveal the private, domestic life of Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln by describing the seemingly inappropriate desires of others to do something quite similar.