History 358/aas 358: American Slavery Meeting Time and Location

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History 358/AAS 358: American Slavery
Meeting Time and Location: T TH 12:45-2:00pm at the Pius XII Memorial Library 501

Professor: Dr. Thompson E-mail: Kthomp35@slu.edu

Offices: Humanities 234 ; African American Studies BEC-115 Office Number: 977-7523

Office Hours: T TH 9:00-10:30am in Hum 234; T 2:00-3:00 in BEC-115

Course Objective:

This course will explore the American Slavery System from the 15th to 19th century. We will thoroughly examine the Atlantic Slave trade, the plantation economy, the daily lives of enslaved persons, the sexual exploitation of slaves, the hardships of female slaves and the emergence of a distinct black culture. We will follow the enslaved Africans across the Atlantic to North America to understand strategies of slave survival and resistance. This course will use primary and secondary sources to fully understand the complex structure African slavery created throughout the Western World.

Required Texts:

1. Classic Slave Narratives Edited by Henry Louis Gates

The Life of Olaudah Equiano

The History of Mary Prince

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

2. Many Thousand Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America, by Ira Berlin 

3. Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market by Walter Johnson

4. If We Must Die:  Shipboard Insurrections in the Era of the Atlantic Slave Trade by Eric Robert Taylor

5. Ar’n't I a Woman: Female Slaves in the Plantation South by Debra G. White

6. Primary Sources-That will be distributed and available through this link http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/home.html
Course Policies:

*Although I will do some lecturing in class, much of our time will be spent discussing assigned readings. Consequently it is important that you come to class regularly and do the assigned reading BEFORE the class period. I reserve the right to call on students who do not volunteer so that everybody has a chance to participate in discussions. The quality of your contributions is as important as their frequency.
A Note on Papers: All papers must be in Times New Roman, 12-point font, double-spaced, with one-inch margins. Quotations of others’ work must be properly identified as such by use of quotation marks; such quotations, and all information derived from a source, must be properly cited in Turabian format. Examples of Turabian format is available on the History Departments website under the Undergraduate Program tab and titled the Departmental Style for Undergraduate Students. Failure to quote or cite properly is plagiarism, whether intentional or not. If you are uncertain about these matters, consult me. NO LATE ASSIGMENTS. Missed or late assignments will not be accepted for credit unless discussed prior to the assignment’s due date. Regular attendance: Attendance is mandatory. Three or more unexcused absences and continual tardiness (as determined by the Instructor) will adversely affect your final grade through at least a letter grade deduction. Class participation: This is a lecture and discussion course; part of our class time will be devoted to talking about the readings. Hence it is essential to the success of this course that you not only come to class, not only come with the assignment completed, but also come prepared to talk about it. Your reading should be active, not passive. You should carry on a dialogue with your sources, asking questions, thinking about the greater significance of the work (“so what?”) and its historical merits (“prove it”). All reading assignments should be physically brought to class on the day of discussion. No tape recorders are allowed in class. Food and drink: Drink is permitted in class; food is not. Its preparation and consumption are distracting. Cell phones: Please turn these off before coming to class. They are disruptive.

Academic Integrity: As members of a learning community, we enjoy important intellectual freedoms and are answerable to equally important academic responsibilities. Doing our own work and properly acknowledging the work of others are bedrock values in a community of scholars. It is your responsibility to read the University’s Policy on Academic Honesty carefully to understand it well. If there are any doubts or questions concerning your work please consult your professor.
Academic dishonesty includes any act that is designed to obtain fraudulently, either for oneself or for someone else, academic credit, grades, or other recognition that is not properly earned or that adversely affects another's grade. All instances of academic dishonesty will be reported and prosecuted through the university system

Special Services: If you are registered with the Disability Services office, please inform your instructor if special accommodations are needed. Any students with disabilities should contact the Disability Services office located in DeBourg Hall Room 36, (314) 977 – 8885 or meyerah@slu.edu.

Course Requirements:

Participation All students are expected to read the required readings before each class and bring the readings along to class to follow along in discussion. All students are expected to participate in discussions. Class participation and attendance constitutes 15% of your grade.
Exams There will be a midterm worth 15% and a final worth 20 % of your final grade. Neither will be comprehensive. Exams will be essay and identification. Review sheets will be provided to assist in preparation of the exams.
Discussant Leader All students will perform the role of discussant leader. Each student will lead discussion on the reading passage. The student is responsible for conducting class and engaging his/her fellow student in dialogue on the readings and its pertinence to historical study. The DL is also responsible for bringing a relevant primary source that will be distributed and incorporated in the discussion for that day. This is worth a total of 10% of your final grade.
Book Review Students are required to write two papers based on assigned readings, the first due on January 27 and the second due on. February 24. Each book review should be from 3-5 pages in length and should be written in a book review format so please review Journal articles. What I am most interested in this assignment is your ability to read and summarize complex arguments from a sophisticated historical work. I encourage you to critique the arguments (both his/her explicit and implicit arguments) as you write your paper. The Book Reviews are worth a total of 20%. They should be submitted in both hard and electronic copies.
Final Paper Lastly you will have a 8-10 page final research paper in which you will use primary and secondary sources. The final essay will be graded on the strength of your argument, use of primary and secondary sources evidence, and the paper must have clarity, organization, and clearly a defined thesis. You have to have a bibliography that has at least 5 secondary works outside of the required readings in class. Also, you must use as your main primary source the W.P.A. Slave Narratives. You must pick a subject area on the experiences of slavery such as culture, African culture in American blacks, the female experience, the youth experience, enslaved women and white women’s relationships, politics of slavery, economics of slavery, etc. This paper will be discussed further in class and is worth 20% of your final grade.
Grading Scale:

A=94-100; A-=90-93; B+=87-89; B= 84-86; B-= 80-83; C+=77-79; C= 74-76; C-=70-73; D+=67-69; D= 64-66

D-= 60-63; F= below 60


Announcements, Assignments and Course Supporting Documents Will be Available Through Blackboard.
Course Schedule and Readings:
Week 1: Africa

1/13-Tu: Overview of Course-

1/15-Th: African Slavery System Reading: Berlin, Introduction; Equiano, Chapter 1 (Start Reading Taylor’s work) Film Clips: The Forts and Castles of Ghana

Week 2: Middle Passage


Reading: Taylor, Chapters 1-4, Equiano Chapter 2

Film Clips: Amistad

1/22-Th: Reading: Taylor, Chapters 5-7, Conclusion – Discussant Leader #1

Week 3: Colonial America


Reading: Equiano, Chapters 3-7
Book Review Due-If We Must Die


Reading: Equiano, Chapters 8-12- Discussant Leader #2

Week 4:


Reading: Berlin, SOCIETIES WITH SLAVES: The Charter Generations Chapters 1-4-DL #3


Reading: Primary Source Packet

Week 5:


Reading: Berlin, SLAVE SOCIETIES: The Plantation Generations, Intro & Chapters5-8 DL#4


Reading: Primary Source Packet
Week 6: War for Independence


Reading: Berlin, SLAVE AND FREE: The Revolutionary Generations, Intro, Chap. 9-12- DL#5


Readings:, Berlin, Epilogue ; Primary Source Packet; Franklin W. Knight, “The Haitian Revolution” The American Historical Review, Vol 105, No 1 (Feb. 2000) pp. 103-115 (Go through the Databases tab on the SLU Library website-Print and Bring to Class)
Week 7: Antebellum Introduced and the Atlantic World


Reading: Sections from Richard Price, Maroon Societies: Rebel Slave Communities in the Americas (Distributed by Professor) (*Possible DL)

Book Review Due-Many Thousand Gone


Reading: Johnson, Intro, Chapter 1-4 ; Review Slave Advertisements *Bring in Samples to discuss in class

Week 8:


Reading: Johnson, Chapters 5-7 & Epilogue, Discussant Leader #6

Week 10: Life in Cotton Kingdom

3/17-Tu: Douglass, Chapters 1-5;

3/19-Th: Douglass, Chapters 6-11-DISCUSSANT LEADER # 7

Week 11: Slave Culture


Reading: Levine, “Some Go Up and Some Go Down”: The Meaning of the Slave Trickster; Sections from Sterling Stuckey, Slave Culture: Nationalist Theory and the Foundations of Black America (Distributed by the Professor)

Reading: “Day to Day Resistance to Slavery” Raymond a. Bauer and Alice H. Bauer, The Journal of Negro History. Vol. 27 No. 4 (Oct. 1942) pp 388-419 (Go through the Databases tab on the SLU Library website-Print and Bring to Class)
Week 12Resistance and Abolitionist


Reading: D.G. White, Chapters 1-3; Primary Source Packet

Reading: D.G. White, Chapters 4-Epilogue- -DISCUSSANT LEADER #8
Week 13:Women


Reading: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl; Primary Source Packet

Readings: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, -DISCUSSANT LEADER #9

Week 14:


Solomon Northup An Odyssey-Film

4/16-Th: Solomon Northup An Odyssey-Film
Week 15:

Film Discussion, Review Website on the Case of Celia a Slave http://www.pbs.org/wnet/slavery/experience/legal/feature2.html Discussant Leader #10* Please meet with Professor Prior to your DL Day

4/23-Th: The History of Mary Prince –Discussant Leader #11
Week 15: The Road to Liberation

4/28-Tu: Primary Source Packet; (Tentative Option: A Shining Thread of Hope, Chapter 5)

Readings: Chapter 2, Foner, Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction ,; ; Ghana’s Uneasy Embrace of Slavery’s Diaspora by Lydia Polgreen ;

Critical Book Reviews:
1. Introduction: Cover one of the following:

a. book's thesis

b. reviewer's assessment

c. historical problem being addressed

2. Summary of Contents: Disclose the book's outline and issues addressed by the author. It should focus on the book's most important conclusions.

3. Historiography: Examine the author's approach, methods, evidence, reasoning and conclusions.

4. Internal Analysis:

a. What questions guide the author's research and thinking?

-does the author exclude relevant and significant questions

b. Does the author examine all relevant and available evidence?

c. Does the author consider alternative hypotheses?

d. Does the author use any other historical or sociological approaches in their analysis?

e. Does the author have any biases or interest that affect the work

f. Does the author attempt moral judgments

g. How does the author organize their work.
5. Summation: Synthesis of the evaluation and estimation of the book's worth and importance.
For more examples of how to write a critical review, you may want to search the internet. There are many informative websites on how to write historical book reviews. Using the Google search engine and typing in searches such as “Critical Book Reviews History” will bring about a number of good websites. You may also want to read a few book reviews from the Journal of American History or the American Historical Review to give you an idea of what a review should look like.

Good book reviews tell readers all of the following:

  1. The topic, sources, and thesis of the book 

  2. The strengths and weaknesses of the interpretation 

  3. How the book relates to other books on this topic

  4. How the book relates to other historical and interdisciplinary schools of thought 

  5. Which (or what kind of) readers will find the book most useful.

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