Professor — Ph.D., University of Wisconsin
Alice Drysdale Sheffield Professor of History, Department of History
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 512.475.7694
- Office: GAR 2.140
LAS 386 • Religion In The Atlantic World
M 200pm-500pm UTC 4.120
(also listed as
HIS 383M, R S 392T )
This seminar focuses on religious ideas that configured the slave trade and slavery in the early modern Atlantic. Will focus on religious ideologies of slavery and the religious experience of the enslaved in several geographical and cultural settings: urban, rural, Africa, Europe, America. This course covers literature on the various Atlantics: British, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French, Dahomeyan, Luandan, Fante, to name only the most representative.
Requirements:Students will write weekly reviews of readings and a final prospectus (a research proposal)
LAS 366 • Bible In Colonial Americas
MWF 900am-1000am GAR 1.126
(also listed as
CTI 375, HIS 363K, R S 366 )
From the moment Columbus first landed in America to the time Spain, Britain, and France lost control of their kingdoms in the New World, the Old Testament shaped the cultures of their empires. The Book of Samuel taught kings, priests, and the people the contested foundations of monarchical authority and popular sovereignty. While priests sought to recapitulate the lives of Aaron, Elijah and Jonah, magistrates aspired to be like Moses and Joshua. Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Leviticus, and Numbers served out lessons on territorial expansion and colonization and the proper way to design the arks and tabernacles that were local temples. By looking at the history of the Old Testament in these Atlantic empires unusual perspectives emerge: Blacks in late eighteenth century British America created exodus narratives and saw their communities as elect, modern Israels seeking migration to a Promised Land in Sierra Leone; Indians in Peru presented the silver mines of Potosi (and therefore their labor in the mines) as the “pillars” of the temple of Jerusalem and, therefore, of the Spanish Monarchy; Christian Ascetics sought to become African slaves of the Lord as their individual wills made metaphorical and actual use of the instruments of slavery to control the urges of their bodies; nuns set up cities of God and saw themselves as fully enfranchised citizens of republics, Israelite heroines like Deborah, Judith, and Jael, wielding swords against powerful occult enemies.
This seminar exposes students to a variety of perspectives on the central role played by the Old Testament in the construction of colonial cultures in the Americas.
Class will be conducted like an experimental workshop. In class, students will be asked to work individually or in groups and answer questions about assignments. To work students need to bring laptops and be connected on line. Assigned readings and images will posted on blackboard.
Grades will be based on two exams and several small assignments.
LAS 386 • Atlantic History
T 330pm-630pm GAR 1.122
(also listed as
HIS 383M, R S 392T )
Sor María de Jesús de Agreda was one the most powerful women of the seventeenth century. While deep in prayer in her monastery in Madrid, she would appear in Texas as the ‘lady in blue’, helping Franciscans convert the natives. More important she acted as a confessor to Philip IV, prompting the king to abolish Indian slavery in the borderlands while spreading the cult of the Immaculate Conception. Agreda was one of the most influential theorists of her century, completing eight stout volumes on the life of Mary. Like much else with the intellectual life of the Spanish Monarchy, her views have been forgotten or cavalierly dismissed. Yet at the time, she shaped countless lives and spaces; her views mutated into places of memory, what are now peculiar shrines to Angels and Virgin Maries scattered all over the world. This is not a seminar on Agreda herself, but on the conceptual categories of time, space, and power that made her views possible and influential worldwide.
Early modern categories of time are alien to us. In the Christian Atlantic, from Angola to Brazil to Boston, time was understood “typologically”, as a fulfillment of events already prefigured in the Old and New Testaments and in the Book of Nature. The learned studied parallel structures in the lives of both societies and individuals and could also predict likely futures. The power of prophecy therefore lay in the correct interpretation of the past: St John of Patmos’ Book of Revelation only made sense in light of the past history of humanity. Space had also structures. Temples, altars, and shrines are what are left of these views in the Catholic world. The Trinity, for example, was not a theological abstraction but a reflection of spatial and power relations on earth. It was also a commentary on the evolution of time: ranging from societies first held by the power of the Law (God Father) to societies then held by Grace (Christ) lastly to societies enjoying growing spiritual illumination (Holy Spirit). In the Spanish Monarchy a tradition developed that saw the growing manifestation of the Spirit through Mary (and through the work of mendicant, apostolic religious orders like the Franciscans and Jesuits). The history of Mary, her apparitions, and her images constituted therefore the history of the Church itself. Mary became just as powerful as Christ in the Trinity. She made herself available through sacred images that were as holy as the body of Christ in the Eucharist. She also was the prime minister of heaven, presiding over ambassadors, the archangels, as the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. She constituted the ideal political ruler.
This is a seminar designed to recover what are now peculiar structures of time, space, and power (both political and gendered) but that once understood transform our interpretation of extant sources such as sermons, hagiographies, church spaces, paintings, chronicles, and more. These were widespread cultural ideas shared by the learned, slaves, Indians, and women, who through the display of images and their weekly exegesis in sermons formed a community of interpretation. This seminar is therefore also reconceptualization of the meaning of “literacy”.We will read secondary sources on prophecy, apocalypse, Mary, angels, the early modern body, sacred architecture, etc. We will also read primary written document (sermons, hagiographies) and objects (images and churches). Students will write a final paper interpreting the temporal and spatial meanings of an altar, shrine, or temple anywhere in the colonial Americas.
LAS 366 • Colonial Lat Amer Thru Objects
TTH 1230pm-200pm UTC 3.110
(also listed as
HIS 363K )
This class studies colonial Latin America through "objects" to gain new
insights on the operations of colonial culture. Often objects shed brighter
light on the past than written documents. Most of the objects we will
discuss are religious in nature: paintings, reliquaries, monstrances,
churches. Objects will allow us to reconstruct the complex and often strange
religious worlds of these societies.
This course seeks for you to partake of the excitement of being a scholar
and a historian. It is my goal to give you the tools to learn how to read
sources and books critically (reading is not an innate skill; it takes time
and training to do it well) and how to reconstruct and understand bygone
cultures using images and texts. These are two basic skills in the
historian's tool-kit that will serve you well the rest of your life,
regardless of the profession you end up choosing.
The following books might be used
Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Art of Colonial Latin America
Samuel Edgerton, Theaters of Conversion
Barbara Mundy, The Mapping of New Spain
There are two exams scheduled. Attendance:
Every three unexcused absences will lower your grade a full-letter grade
Three 4 page papers on the assigned readings to be turned ini at different
times over the course of the semester.
Grades: (100 points)
Paper 1: 20 points
Paper 2: 20 points
Exam 1: 20 points
Paper 3: 20 points
Exam 2: 20 points