|HONR259N: New Orleans: Colonial to Katrina
Professor Emily Landau, Department of History
Office: TLF 2137
Class: Queen Anne’s Hall 0108
This is a course about America’s most interesting city. New Orleans exists simultaneously as a mythic city—the city that care forgot, as the saying goes—and a very real place, as much, perhaps more, burdened by cares as any other. We will go back to the first days of French settlement and study the ways in which the city developed as an exotic enclave in the Deep South. The course explores the dominant tropes in New Orleans history: race, sex, carnival, jazz, prostitution, slavery, free people of color, and the environment. We will map the social, cultural, and political changes that occurred in New Orleans from colonial times to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Without attempting to separate the “myth” of New Orleans from the “reality”—itself a fruitless endeavor, since the two concepts are not mutually exclusive—we will explore the ways in which the image of New Orleans and what it has stood for in American culture has interacted with and influenced the people, politics, perceptions, and even the physical reality of New Orleans. Throughout the course, we will explore the concept of “counterpoint” in thinking about the city’s relationship with the rest of the region (the Deep South, the West) as well as with the United States as a whole. In addition, New Orleans offers an excellent opportunity to explore the circum-Caribbean and circum-Atlantic worlds, and we will look at the city in relationship to Haiti, Cuba, France, and Africa.
Assignments include in-class work, a short (5pps) paper the first half of the semester, and a longer, final paper due May 16. The final paper will constitute a historiographical essay, incorporating the readings of the semester to answer a key question about New Orleans history. Each student will also write two book reports. I will explain the details below and in class. In-class work includes interpreting the 1724 Code Noir, writing a brief for Homer Plessy’s case against segregation, designing a Mardi Gras float, and designing a Disneyworld exhibit of New Orleans that captures the essence of the city. Additionally, students will hand in weekly responses to the readings—these must be typed and printed out and include your name, the names of the readings in question, and the date. Class participation is required. Your active engagement with the material, and with your fellow students, in class is absolutely necessary for the success of the course. Because there are no exams in this class, your comprehension will be measured by your ability to discuss the reading in an informed and thoughtful manner. Students will also have the opportunity to co-lead class discussions. The best way to prepare for class is to complete the reading and the response before meeting, and to bring to class specific questions and issues for discussion. (NB: Active participation means being courteous to your fellow students and attentive to the teacher; a student who attempts to hog the conversation will not be considered to be constructively participating in discussions.)
Plagiarism will not be tolerated; we will review appropriate citation methods when discussing the first, short paper, and then again as we work on the longer papers. For now it is important to know that the University of Maryland, College Park has a nationally recognized Code of Academic Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students. As a student you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course. It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit http://www.shc.umd.edu.
To further exhibit your commitment to academic integrity, remember to sign the Honor Pledge on all
examinations and assignments: "I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this examination (assignment)."
Grades for this class will be calculated according to the following tables; keep in mind, however, that I do have discretion in this matter. If you feel that you have been graded unfairly, please do not attempt to discuss the matter immediately following class. Take a day to review the assignment and your written work. If you still believe the grade unfair, write a letter clearly stating why, hand it to me in person, and arrange a time to meet with me to discuss the issue.
The grading scale is 100- 98 = A+; 97-93 = A; 92-90 = A-; 89-88 = B+; 87-83 = B; 82-80 = B-; 79-78 = C+; 77-73 = C; 72-70 = C-; 69-68 = D+; 67-63 = D; 62-60 = D-; 59-0 = F.
Assignment Date due % of course grade
Class Participation throughout semester 15 %
Reading Responses weekly 15 %
First Paper February 25 20 %
Book Reports select dates 20 % (10 % each)
Final Paper May 16 30 %
Please note that writing assignments constitute eighty-five percent of your grade—there is no exam. Content, style, grammar, clarity and persuasiveness of argument, and a lack of spelling and typographical errors all figure in the calculation of the grades. Please take the time to review your own writing, edit and proofread, and make an appointment with me or the writing center if you are not certain what is expected for a college-level writing assignment.
The following books are available at the University Book Center:
Lewis, Peirce F. New Orleans: The Making of an Urban Landscape. University of Virginia Press, Center for American Places Series, 2009.
Armstrong, Louis. Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans
DaCapo Press, 1986
Mitchell, Reid. All on a Mardi Gras Day.
Johnson, Walter. Soul by Soul
Hair, William Ivy. Carnival of Fury
Hirsch, Arnold and Joseph Logsdon. Creole New Orleans: Race and Americanization.
Shapiro, Nat and Nat Hentoff, eds. Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya: The Story of Jazz as Told by the Men Who Made It. Dover Books, 1966.
These readings are available on-line through ELMS and in the books/journals where they are chapters/articles:
Virginia Meacham Gould, "A Chaos of Iniquity and Discord": Slave and Free Women of Color in the Spanish Ports of New Orleans, Mobile, and Pensacola," in Catherine Clinton and Michelle Gillespie, eds., The Devil's Lane: Sex and Race in the Early South (OUP 1997). Pages: 232-246
Judith Kelleher Schafer, "Open and Notorious Concubinage": The Emancipation of Slave Mistresses by Will, in Slavery, The Civil Law, and the Supreme Court of Louisiana (LSU 1994). Pages: 180-200
Jennifer Spear, "They Need Wives": Metissage and the Regulation of Sexuality in French Louisiana, 1699-1730, in Martha Hodes, ed., Sex, Love, Race: Crossing Boundaries in North American History (NYU, 1999). Pages: 35-59
Lawrence Powell, ed. Through the Eye of Katrina, special issue, December 2007 The Journal of American History: http://www.journalofamericanhistory.org/projects/katrina/content.html (JAH)
Other readings will be posted on Blackboard as pdf files.
Mardi Gras: Made in China
Trouble the Water
Schedule of readings and assignments:
January 26 & 28
New Orleans: Fact and Fantasy
Tuesday: Introduction: Reading the syllabus; how do we understand New Orleans? Images from Katrina.
Thursday: ******MEET IN HORNBAKE: KEN BURNS DOCUMENTARY******
February 2 & 4
Colonial New Orleans
Read: Elizabeth Fussell, “Constructing New Orleans, Constructing Race,” JAH 846-855; Preface and Part I of Creole New Orleans: “The French and African Founders: Introduction,” and, Jerah Johnson, ”Colonial New Orleans.” Read also: Hodding Carter, “An Introduction, With Love,” from Carter, Hodding, ed. The Past as Prelude: New Orleans, 1718-1968 (available as a pdf on Blackboard).
Tuesday : Settlement, environment, frontier: One Blood.
Thursday: Code Noir.
February 9 & 11
Sex and Race in Early New Orleans
Read: Jennifer Spear, “They Need Wives,”** Virginia Meacham Gould, “A Chaos of Iniquity and Discord,”** and Judith Kelleher Schafer, “Open and Notorious Concubinage”** (**All these readings are on line through ELMS e-reserve) Also read, Sybil Kein, “Introduction,” and Joan Martin, “Plaçage and the Gens de Couleur Libre,” in Kein, Sybil, ed. Creole: The History and Legacy of Louisiana’s Free People of Color (available as a pdf on Blackboard).
These readings will form the basis for your first paper: What were the conditions governing or affecting interracial sex and métissage in Louisiana? How did they change over the course of the colonial period? Over the antebellum period? It is a short assignment, in which you are required to summarize the arguments of these pieces and put them into a cohesive structure, with an argument, evidence, and conclusion.
Tuesday: Send Me Wives!
The French and indigenous peoples
Thursday: “Open and Notorious Concubinage”
Interracial sex and repression
February 16 & 18
Read: Reid Mitchell, All on a Mardi Gras Day intro through chapter 4; and Mitchell, “Carnival and Katrina,” JAH, 789-994 and Creole New Orleans, Part II: (Intro) The American Challenge.
Tuesday: MARDI GRAS!!!! While we won’t have a second line through campus, we will design some Mardi Gras floats and, perhaps, enjoy some Mardi Gras treats.
Thursday: FILM: Mardi Gras: Made in China. Meet in Hornbake.
February 23 & 25
Five Page Papers due in class on Thursday, February 25
The Free People of Color, the Haitian Revolution, and Cuba: mass immigration, the changing demographics of the city, the threat of rebellion
Read: Creole New Orleans, Part II: Tregle, Creoles and Americans (skip Lachance); ALSO: Henry M. McKiven, Jr., “The Political Construction of a Natural Disaster: The Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1853,” JAH, 734-742, Ari Kelman, Chapter on Yellow Fever; Shirley Thompson, chapter on Yellow Fever and Toucoutou: examining the 1853 yellow fever epidemic from three different angles. (These latter two available as PDFs on Blackboard.)
Tuesday: Antebellum New Orleans: Travel literature and description. Toqueville, Davidson, excerpts.
Thursday: Antebellum New Orleans continued: Yellow Fever in the “Glamour Period.”
March 2 & 4
Slavery in the City: artisans and auctions
Read: Walter Johnson, Soul by Soul, first half
Tuesday: Artisans and the meaning of slavery in the urban environment
Thursday: Slave marts and markets
March 9 & 11
Slavery in the City, cont.
Read: Johnson, Soul by Soul, second half
Tuesday: Auctions and the performance of mastery
Thursday: Civil War and its immediate aftermath: massacre!
Book Reports Due for Soul by Soul
March 16 & 18
Read over break: one Grace King and one George Washington Cable story
March 23 & 25
Reconstruction and remembering: Postbellum New Orleans: Reconstruction and the Long Road to Plessy
Read: Reid Mitchell, All on a Mardi Gras Day, chapter five (Comus) and chapter six (Northerners). Creole New Orleans, Part 3, Chapter 5; Michael A. Ross on the Slaughterhouse cases.
Tuesday: Backlash: Rule or Ruin, White Leagues, etc.
Thursday: Road to Reunion?
March 30 & April 1
Creole New Orleans, Part 3, Intro. Lafcadio Hearn, Sketches; ALSO: The Freedman’s Case in Equity and Rebecca Scott, “The Atlantic World and the Road to Plessy vs. Ferguson,” JAH, 726-733; Barthelemy, “Light, Bright, etc.” in Kein, Creole and available as a pdf on Blackboard.
Tuesday: Reconstruction: violence, corruption, and progress.
Thursday: Plessy vs. Ferguson
Free men of color and their long fight for “public rights” and equality.
April 6 & 8
Read: Mitchell, All on a Mardi Gras Day, chapters, seven, eight, and ten; Phil Johnson, “Good Time Town,” in Carter, ed. Past as Prelude available as a pdf on Blackboard; Shapiro and Hentoff, Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya, through chapter 7; also: Kmen, “The Music of New Orleans,” in Carter, ed., Past as Prelude.
Tuesday: Segregation by race and segregation of vice: Storyville.
Thursday: Prostitution and Jazz
April 13 & 15
Sex! Race! Violence!
Read: William Ivy Hair, Carnival of Fury
Tuesday: The Storyville neighborhood and the “ethnic” geography of New Orleans
Book Reports Due: Carnival of Fury
April 20 & 22
Jazz and “Authenticity”
Read: Louis Armstrong, Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans; Raeburn, “‘They’re Tryin’ to Wash Us Away,” JAH, 812-819; White, “Reflections of an Authentic Jazz Life,” JAH, 820-827
Tuesday: Jazz, jazz musicians, and the politics of sex, race, and music.
Thursday: The birthplace of jazz: what is “authentic”?
Book Reports Due: Satchmo
Film: New Orleans
April 27 & 29
Read: Peirce Lewis, New Orleans: The Making of an Urban Landscape, book one; Alecia Long, “Poverty is the New Prostitution,” JAH, 795-803; Souther, “The Disneyfication of New Orleans,” JAH, 804-811.
Thursday: Poverty, Race, and Place
May 4 & 6
Civil Rights and lack thereof
Read Mitchell, All on a Mardi Gras Day, Zulu and epilogue; Souther on the NFL available as a pdf on Blackboard; Creole New Orleans final chapter “Simply a Matter of Black and White”; Landphair, “The Forgotten People,” JAH, 704-715; Germany, “The Politics of Poverty and History,” JAH, 743-751.
Thursday May 6: Evening FILM at Hornbake: Trouble the Water
Read: Lewis, New Orleans Book Two; Powell, “What does American History Tell Us About Katrina?,” JAH, 863-876; Rebecca Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell, chapter on New Orleans available as a pdf on Blackboard.
The earth, the environment and “Natural” disasters.
Tuesday: The environment and the making of a natural disaster (1927).
Thursday: Ditto (2005); summing up and final thoughts.
Final papers due in my office May 16 by 4pm.