Slavery and freedom: Political Thought Capstone

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AP/POLS 4906 3. W Professor David McNally   

SLAVERY AND FREEDOM: Political Thought Capstone

Wednesdays, 11:30 – 2:20, Vari Hall 2005

This course examines the theory and practice of freedom in terms of the historical dialectic of slavery and resistance. Emphasis is placed on concepts of freedom developed in the “slave societies” of ancient Greece and Rome and in early-modern Britain, the United States and Haiti in the era of modern plantation slavery and the revolutionary struggle against it.

Required Texts

Orlando Patterson, Freedom, volume 1

Domenico Losurdo, Liberalism: A Counter History

Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom

C.L.R. James, The Black Jacobins (available at: )

PLUS: Readings from Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Hegel and Marx as indicated below

Recommended (and highly relevant to final paper topics):

M. I. Finley, Ancient Slavery and Modern Ideology

Yvon Garlan, Slavery and Ancient Greece (revised edition)

G. de Ste. Croix, Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World

Ellen Meiksins Wood, Peasant-Citizen and Slave

Sarah B. Pomeroy, Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves

Sandra E. Joshel, Slavery in the Roman World

Daniel P. Mannix, Black Cargoes: A History of the Atlantic Slave Trade

Marcus Rediker, The Slave Ship: A Human History

Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery

Edward E. Baptist, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and . . . American Capitalism

Greg Grandin, The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom and Deception in the New World

Robin Blackburn, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery

W. E. B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America

Eric Foner, Nothing but Freedom: Emancipation and its Legacy

Susan Buck-Morss, Hegel, Haiti and Universal History

David Brion Davis, Slavery and Western Culture

David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution

Laurent Dubois, Avengers of the New World

Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

James Oakes, The Radical and the Republican

Robin Blackburn, An Unfinished Revolution (with texts from Marx and Engels)

David Roediger, Seizing Freedom: Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

Grading Scheme

Short essay (2000 words due February 25) – 25%

Seminar participation – 30%

Final essay (4000 words due April 1) – 45%

January 7 – Course Introduction

January 14 – Ancient Slavery and “the Greek Origins of Freedom”

Readings: Patterson, Ch. 2-5; and M. I. Finley, “Between Slavery and Freedom” available at

January 21 – Greek Democracy and the Debate over Slavery and Freedom

Readings: Patterson, Ch. 6-9; Plato, The Laws, Book Six, “The Problem of Slavery” through “Women Must Join the Communal Meals” 776-782; Aristotle, The Politics, Book I.

January 28 – Reconfigurations of Slavery and Freedom between Greece and Rome

Readings: Patterson, Ch. 11-15

February 4 – Freedom and Servitude from the Medieval World to Early European Colonialism

Readings: Patterson, Ch. 20-22; and Morgan, Ch. 1-2

February 11— Colonialism, Bonded Labour and New World Slavery in Colonial America

Readings: Morgan, Ch. 3-6 and Ch. 7, pp. 153-7; Losurdo, Ch. 1

Recommended: Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery; Daniel P. Mannix, Black Cargoes

February 18 – READING WEEK

February 25 – Liberty, Property and Slavery, 1: Locke and English Liberalism

Readings: Losurdo, Ch. 2- 4; Locke, Second Treatise of Government, Ch. 3-5, 16, 18 and “The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina”

Recommended: D. McNally, “Locke, Levellers and Liberty: Property and Democracy in the Thought of the First Whigs,” History of Political Thought (1988)

March 4 – Liberty, Property and Slavery, 2: Racism and the American Colonial Experience

Readings: Morgan, Ch. 11-13, 15-16, 18

March 11 – Beyond Slavery: From Hegel to the Black Jacobins

Readings: Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, B.IV.A (“Lordship and Bondage”); C.L.R. James, Ch. 1-6; Losurdo, Ch. 5

Recommended: Susan Buck-Morss, Hegel, Haiti and Universal History

March 18 – The Politics of Emancipation: From Haiti to America and Europe

Readings: James, Ch. 7-13; Losurdo, Ch. 6

March 25 – The West and the Barbarians: Racial Domination after Slavery

Readings: Losurdo, Ch. 7-9; Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, Ch. 1

April 1 – Freedom Dreams

Readings: Toussaint L’Ouverture, “Proclamation,” August 29, 1793, and Letters of July 1792 and November 1797; Marx, “Address of the International Working Men’s Association to Abraham Lincoln,” January 7, 1865; Lucy Parsons, Speeches to the Founding of the Industrial Workers of the World; Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, Conclusion

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