Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
english masthead
english masthead
Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2005

E 324 • Recovering Slavery: Trauma, Memory, and Culture

(Will Not Count Toward a Major in English)

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
33167 TTh
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
PAR 303

Course Description

While some studies tout the declining significance of race, still others proclaim its significance ever more assiduously. For many African Americans, in particular, the color line remains the dominant issue of the twenty first century, due largely to unresolved issues pertaining to slavery. Dispersed slave descendants in unprecedented numbers desperately seek recovery and (dis)closure, whether monetary restitution, reparations and apologies from requisite governments involved in the slave trade or history. Yet, such recovery, in effect, troubles the archives, calling attention to exclusionary practices in historical compilations.

This course therefore proposes two primary objectives. Engaging Jacques Derrida's Archive Fever, it first critiques the very process by which archives hide their own raison d'etre. In its second objective, the course recovers the absented slave whose subjectivity is reclaimed through collective cultural memory practices. These are interdisciplinary in scope and take the form of slave museums, heritage sites, archaeological digs, slave cemeteries, literature, and art. Ultimately, the course seeks to answer the following: what are the limits of archives, and what is the measure of recovery? Can the slave subject ever be fully reclaimed?

Grading Policy

Four critical essays (four pages each) 60%
Group Presentations/class participation 30%
Reading quizzes 10%

Attendance: Regular attendance is required. More than four absences will be sufficient grounds for failure in the course.


Henry Wiencek, An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America
Garry Wills, Negro President: Jefferson & the Slave Power
Jennifer L. Eichstedt and Stephen Small, Representations of Slavery: Race and Ideology in Southern Plantation Museums
Toni Morrison, Beloved
Steven Weisenburger, Modern Media: A Family Story of Slavery and Child Murder from the Old South
Fred D'Aguiar, Feeding the Ghosts
Ron Eyerman, Cultural Trauma: Slavery and the Formation of African American Identity
Course pack (TBA)

Films: Long Night's Journey Into Day, Amistad, Sankofa, etc.
Art: Turner's Slave Ship; Noble's Modern Medea; Walker's Silhouettes


bottom border