Office Hours: Thursdays 11:00 – 1:00 and by appointment.
firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
This course covers a huge time span: 1718 to 2005, at least. This course, therefore, requires a lot of work. There is a significant amount of reading, writing, and primary source analysis. It is absolutely imperative that you keep up with the readings so that we may fruitfully discuss them in class. Your voices are necessary to make this class successful. There are unsettled questions in the history of New Orleans, moral, ethical, and practical, as well as historical, dilemmas, and we will explore them together in class. Each week, you will write a one-page response to the week’s reading assignment—even on weeks where there is an additional writing assignment! These responses are designed to 1) help you focus your reading time around critically considering what each author is arguing, 2) facilitate discussion, 3) provide me, the instructor, an idea of whether you are “getting it” and what you are getting out of it, and, finally, 4) provide you with a ready-to-hand annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources in New Orleans history. This last will come in handy for writing your final papers, which I will discuss below. Your responses will be graded on a pass/fail basis, and I will use them to evaluate your overall grade. Responses such as, “This reading was long,” or “I found this reading boring,” will receive an F. The thought you put into writing these will pay off in your final grade. They must be typed (printed) and handed in at the end of Thursday’s class. I will ask students, at random, to read from their responses, so please be prepared to do so.
Students will also have the opportunity to lead discussion. This takes a little more preparation and we will discuss the protocol in class. Essentially, you and a partner will summarize the reading and come up with two sets of questions for the class. The first set will deal strictly with questions about the reading, such as, what was so-and-so’s argument in this article? And, what did so-and-so find out about Spanish policies regarding slavery and manumission? The second set of questions will deal with larger issues that the reading touches upon—or that you wished it had touched upon more thoroughly—such as, how is it possible to think of slaves as simultaneously persons and property? What is the difference between being enslaved and being horribly poor, but technically free? That kind of thing.
In addition to reading, responses, and discussion, this class includes several other assignments, written and in-class. There are two two-page (2 page) primary source analysis papers and one five page essay, also based on a primary source. For these, I expect you to analyze the source as a text and as a historical artifact. You must describe and summarize the source, and then situate it within the context of its production. Your final paper assignment will be a ten-page essay about Hurricane Katrina based on the class materials as well as newspaper articles that you find yourselves. The five-year anniversary is coming up, so there will probably be a good crop of reflections in the New Orleans papers, at least. You may use some of these as well as articles published AT THE TIME OF THE HURRICANE, in 2005.
In class, in addition to discussing the reading, we will design theme parks, Mardi Gras floats, and, of course, listen to music.
Assignments and percentages of grades:
Assignment Date due % of course grade
Class Participation throughout semester 10 %
Document Analysis #1 (2pps) September 21 10 %
Document Analysis #2 (2pps) October 19 10 %
Document Analysis #3 (5pps) November 9 30 %
Final Paper (10 pages) December 14 40 %
The above is just a guide. Instructor maintains full discretion in calculating final grades. Please note that all written work must be printed in 11 or 12-point font with one-inch margins; you MUST include the course, the date, and your full name along with the bibliographic information about the readings. No title pages. You may use print on both sides or use recycled paper, but keep it neat. You are responsible for your own office supplies: don’t run out of staples, ink, or paper. If you do, beg, borrow, or steal them from your classmates. (Just kidding about the stealing.) Remember that the written responses to the week’s readings will not receive a letter grade, but the quality of these responses will affect your grade significantly. 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. (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.
The following books are available at the University Book Center:
Armstrong, Louis. Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans
DaCapo Press, 1986
Berry, Jason, Jonathan Foose, and Tad Jones, Up From The Cradle Of Jazz: New Orleans Music Since World War II (Louisiana-Lafayette 2009)
Hair, William Ivy. Carnival of Fury
Hirsch, Arnold and Joseph Logsdon. Creole New Orleans: Race and Americanization.
Johnson, Walter. Soul by Soul
Lewis, Peirce F. New Orleans: The Making of an Urban Landscape. University of Virginia Press, Center for American Places Series, 2003. Paper ISBN: 978-1-930066-61-8
The other readings, on the syllabus with a BB after them, will be available on Blackboard. YOU MUST PRINT THEM OUT AND BRING THEM TO CLASS. I WILL CHECK TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THEM. FAILING TO BRING THE READINGS WILL AFFECT YOUR GRADE.
Here they are:
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), 35-59.
Laura Foner, “Free People of Color in Louisiana and St. Domingue: A Comparative Portrait of Two Three-Caste Slave Societies,” Journal of Social History, Vol. 3, No. 4 (Summer 1970), pp. 406-430.
Kimberly Hanger, Bounded Lives, Bounded Places: Free Black Society in Colonial New Orleans, 1769-1803, Introduction and Chapter One, to page 54.
Reid Mitchell, All on a Mardi Gras Day: Episodes in the History of New Orleans Carnival (HUP, 1995), select chapters throughout the semester.
Judith Kelleher Schafer, Slavery, the Civil Law, and the Supreme Court of Louisiana, Chapters six and seven, pages 149-200.
John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley, 220-229.
Also, in 2007, the Journal of American History published a special issue focused almost entirely on Katrina. Readings from this journal, which will be available on Blackboard, as well as through the website cited below, are followed in the syllabus with the letters, JAH. These articles, as well as the ones I have not assigned, are excellent sources for your final paper, so I advise you to peruse the whole issue before beginning that assignment. The citation is below:
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) Finally, we will watch the following at Hornbake Library:
Ken Burns’ “Jazz” episodes one and two (during class, see schedule)
“Mardi Gras: Made in China (during class, see schedule)
“Trouble the Water” (on an evening, tbd according to the best times for the most of the students).
Schedule of classes and reading assignments; note that ALL reading is due for Thursday’s class: August 31 – September 2
Overview, Part 1
Read: Peirce Lewis, New Orleans: The Making of an Urban Landscape, part one to page 54.
Make sure you take some time to look at the picture gallery following page 36.
*********Thursday’s class will meet at HORNBAKE library, in non-print media services to watch the Ken Burns’s documentary, Jazz. The video is 90 minutes long. We’ll watch the last fifteen minutes in class on Tuesday.
September 7 – 9
Overview, Part 2
Read Peirce Lewis, New Orleans part one, to end, page 105.
********NO CLASS ON THURSDAY IN OBSERVATION OF ROSH HASHANAH September 14 – 16
Colonial New Orleans:
“Send Me Wives”
Read: Hirsch and Logsdon, Creole New Orleans: Race and Americanization:
Preface, Introduction to Part One, and Jerah Johnson, “Colonial New Orleans”; and 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), BB.
Tuesday: Discovery and settlement: how to successfully colonize a wilderness. How NOT to. We will discuss the reading as well, so be prepared to talk about the Peirce Lewis book please.
Thursday: Discussion. What were the problems colonial officials encountered in Louisiana? What were their attempts to solve them? What was the point of view of the “natives”? How did these cultures converge and clash?
********Assignment: Read the 1724 Code Noir and write a two page analysis of it as a historical document. What does it reveal about French New Orleans? Slavery? Colonialism? How does it work as a text: is it consistent? If not, what are the internal contradictions? Do you think the authors were aware of those contradictions or not? Why or why not?
September 21 – 23
Colonial New Orleans:
Slavery and Code Noir
Read: Elizabeth Fussell, “Constructing New Orleans, Constructing Race,” JAH 846-855, BB; Laura Foner, “Free People of Color in Louisiana and St. Domingue: A Comparative Portrait of Two Three-Caste Slave Societies,” Journal of Social History, Vol. 3, No. 4 (Summer 1970), pp. 406-430, BB, and Kimberly Hanger, Bounded Lives, Bounded Places: Free Black Society in Colonial New Orleans, 1769-1803, Introduction and Chapter One, to page 54, BB
*********DUE TUESDAY AT THE BEGINNING OF CLASS: Document Analysis #1: Code Noir. Please bring in two copies of your analysis—one to hand in at the beginning of class and one to refer to during discussion.
Tuesday: What was the Code Noir? What was its purpose? Its underlying philosophy?
Thursday: Discuss the readings: what is caste? What is the significance of the free people of color?
September 28 – 30
Louisiana Purchase and American Rule
Read, Reid Mitchell, All on a Mardi Gras Day: Episodes in the History of New Orleans Carnival, intro and chapters one and two, to page 37, BB and Judith Kelleher Schafer, Slavery, the Civil Law, and the Supreme Court of Louisiana, Chapters six and seven, pages 149-200, BB.
Tuesday: Hemispheric considerations: Three Revolutions: American, French, Haitian. What this meant for New Orleans.
Thursday: Discuss the readings: What did the Americans bring?
October 5 – 7
Read: Walter Johnson, Soul by Soul: Life in the Antebellum Slave Market, Introduction and chapters one, two, and three (to page 116).
***********Assignment: Read James Davidson’s Diary, BB, and “Tocqueville in New Orleans,” BB and write a two (2) page analysis of these travelers’ descriptions on antebellum New Orleans. Each is coming from a very different society, and each has his own observations. What do they see differently? What do they see the same? You may comment as well on style if you wish, though note that the Tocqueville is in translation. How would you compare and contrast their views on morality, slavery, sex, and religion, to name a few? Tuesday: Antebellum Slavery in New Orleans
Thursday: Discuss the readings: what is Johnson’s overall argument? His aim? His sources?
October 12 – 15
Read: Johnson, Soul by Soul, to end, page 220.
Tuesday: Beyond the slave markets and pens: what was it LIKE in antebellum New Orleans? For whites? Americans? Immigrants? Free people of color? Slaves? Women (of all of the above groups)?
Thursday: Continue discussion of Johnson.
October 19 – 21
Reconstruction, Redemption, and Rights
Read: John Rodrigue, “Introduction,” in Henry Clay Warmoth, War, Politics, and Reconstruction, BB, and Reid Mitchell, All on a Mardi Gras Day, chapters four and five (Rex and Comus), BB, and George Washington Cable, “The Freedman’s Case in Equity,” BB
*******DUE TUESDAY AT THE BEGINNING OF CLASS: Document analysis #2, Travel Diaries
Tuesday: Cataclysm: the Civil War and the END OF SLAVERY: what’s a three-caste society to do? What was the significance of the Civil War in New Orleans? What was the promise of emancipation? We will discuss the so-called Reconstruction Amendments, most particularly the 14th, and look at the Slaughter-House cases.
Thursday: Discuss the readings: what was New Orleans’s role in Reconstruction?
October 26 – 28
Long Road to Plessy
Read: Hirsch and Logsdon, Creole New Orleans, Part 3, Intro and Bell and Logsdon, “The Americanization of Black New Orleans,” and Rebecca Scott, “The Atlantic World and the Long Road to Plessy v Ferguson,” JAH, BB, and Plessy v Ferguson.
********Assignment: Read the arguments in Plessy v Ferguson and write a five (5) page paper analyzing the strategy of the Citizens’ Committee and their attorney, Albion Tourgée. What was Tourgée’s argument? How did the Court refute it? WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?????
Read: Louis Armstrong, Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans
Tuesday: Who was Louis Armstrong? What is this “Jazz” music?
**********THURSDAY’S CLASS WILL MEET IN HORNBAKE FOR TO VIEW “THE GIFT.” November 9 – 11
Read: William Ivy Hair, Carnival of Fury through chapter 5, up to page 93.
**********PAPERS DUE TUESDAY AT THE BEGINNING OF CLASS on TUESDAY. Tuesday: in class we will discuss the on-line exhibit, Hidden from History, and I will discuss my research in New Orleans. We will read in class some of the Criminal District Court cases I have looked at, and analyze one as a primary document. You may bring your laptops for this class if you wish.
Thursday: we will discuss the beginning of Carnival of Fury.
November 16 – 18
Read: Carnival of Fury to end.
TUESDAY WE WILL MEET IN HORNBAKE TO WATCH THE FILM, “MARDI GRAS: MADE IN CHINA.” Thursday: We will devote part of today’s class to discussing the movie seen Tuesday. Please be prepared to do so.
Discuss Carnival of Fury: who was Robert Charles? What was his crime? Did he deserve what he got? What happened afterwards?
Modern New Orleans
Race Relations/Progress, Reaction, TOURISM
Read: Creole New Orleans final chapter “Simply a Matter of Black and White,” Germany, “The Politics of Poverty and History,” JAH, 743-751, BB, Souther, “The Disneyfication of New Orleans,” JAH, 804-811, BB, and Souther, “Into the Big League,” BB AND Steinbeck, Travels with Charley, 220-229, BB.
Tuesday: If you were tasked with designing a theme park based on New Orleans, what would it look like? What would you include? Groups will get together to design their own “Disney” style theme parks based on the history of New Orleans.
Thursday: Discuss the reading: What is the authentic New Orleans? I thought this was a place of tolerance and progressive race relations—what gives???
November 30 – December 2
Read: Berry, Foose, and Jones, Up From the Cradle of Jazz, pages TBA.
Tuesday: If you were the head of a Mardi Gras krewe, what would you call it? What would your theme be? What would your membership consist of? What would your floats look like? Groups will get together to design Mardi Gras Floats.
Thursday: Discuss the reading: What is a Mardi Gras Indian? What is Zulu?
EVENING SCREENING OF THE FILM: TROUBLE THE WATER TIME TBA December 7 – 9
Read: Peirce Lewis, New Orleans, Book Two AND Ari Kelman, “Boundary Issues,” JAH, 695-703; Landphair, “The Forgotten People,” JAH, 704-715; Mitchell, “Carnival and Katrina,” JAH, 789-794, Alecia Long, “Poverty is the New Prostitution,” JAH, 795-803, Raeburn, “‘They’re Tryin’ to Wash Us Away,” JAH, 812-819 BB.
Tuesday: Hurricanes, floods, and acts of God.
Thursday: Discuss the reading: was Hurricane Katrina an Act of God?
FINAL PAPER ASSIGNMENT: WRITE A TEN (10) PAGE PAPER ADDRESSING THE STATEMENT: “HURRICANE KATRINA WAS A NATURAL DISASTER.” In addition to the class materials you must find at least 10 newspaper or journal articles (New Republic, Atlantic, New Yorker, etc.)—a combo would be great—discussing Katrina and its aftermath. You may read these on-line, but you must cite them appropriately.