AMS 321 • African American History to 1860
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
This upper division course examines the history of Blacks in the United States from the West African Heritage to the Civil War and provides a critical examination on central issues under scholarly debate in the reconstruction of the Black experience in America. The course thus engages the debate on the evolution of African-American slavery as a social, economic and political institution, with a special focus on antebellum slavery, including plantation slavery, industrial slavery, and urban slavery in addition to slave culture. Also, the course assesses the institutional development of the free black community, during the age of slavery, with emphasis on free black protest activities, organizations, and leaders. Equally important, information is provided on the business and entrepreneurial activities of both slave and free blacks before the Civil War to underscore the long historic tradition of black economic self-help. Invariably, those slaves who purchased their freedom were slaves involved in various business enterprises. Also emphasized in the course are the various ways in which slave and free black women responded to slavery and racism before the Civil War, giving consideration to gender issues within the intersection of the dynamics of race, class, and sex.
The course format is primarily lecture, with informal class discussion, utilizing in part the Socratic method of teaching/pedagogy (especially useful for students who are pre-law), as we examine topics that broaden historical consciousness and critical thinking skills, such as: the role Africans played in the Atlantic slave trade; the historical forces that contributed to the origin of racism in Colonial America; the anomaly of black plantation slave owners in a race-based slave society; how white economic disparities and hegemonic masculinities were played out in class subordination and racial oppression; why race takes precedence over class in assessing the black historical experience; the extent to which judicial cases provide a pragmatic assessment of the realities of slave life; the extent to which American law supported the racial subordination of slave and free blacks; whether or not the economic and political imperatives that prompted antebellum African American settlement in West Africa can be considered colonialist in design and intent.
Midterm Exam 30% Research Paper 30% Panel Presentation 10% Final Exam 30% * both exams are take-home essay
Franklin, John H. and Alfred Moss, FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM, 8th ed Holt, T. and Barkley-Brown, E. MAJOR PROBLEMS IN AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY, vol 1 Litwack, Leon and Meier, A., BLACK LEADERS OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY Owens, Leslie, THIS SPECIES OF PROPERTY: SLAVE LIFE AND CULTURE IN THE OLD SOUTH Schwartz, Marie, BORN IN BONDAGE: GROWING UP ENSLAVED IN THE ANTEBELLUM SOUTH Walker, Juliet E. K., FREE FRANK: A BLACK PIONEER ON THE ANTEBELLUM FRONTIER White, Deborah Gray, AREN'T I A WOMAN: FEMALE SLAVES PLANTATION SOUTH