History 598. 01 Senior colloquium colonial encounters: european imperialism 1830-1960

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History 598.01 Prof. Alice L. Conklin

Fall 2007 conklin.44@osu.edu

W 1:30-3:18 232 Dulles Hall

JR 0291 Tel: 292-6325
OFFICE HOURS: Thursday, 1:30-3:30 p.m. or by appointment

This course will explore Europe’s often brutal -- and always complex -- encounter with some of the peoples it colonized in the modern “Age of Empire,” and the many different ways in which historians have written about this encounter. Special attention will be paid to the French, British and especially the Belgians in Africa, as well as European and African reactions to the devastating impact of imperialism. Themes we will consider include the motives for European expansion; the emergence of new racist and humanitarian ideologies; strategies of resistance and accommodation to colonial rule; and masculinity, interracial unions, and fears of miscegenation; women’s roles in empire.

The course requirements are designed to help students acquire a perspective on history and an understanding of the factors that shape human activity, with specific reference to the Modern West’s expansion into the rest of the world. Students will develop critical thinking skills through the study of diverse interpretations of historical events and the analysis of primary and secondary sources. The various papers and discussions will build the communication skills essential for modern citizenship and career advancement in a global world.

REQUIRED TEXTS (all available from University Bookstore, and on reserve in library). I have starred the most important ones:

*Alice L. Conklin and Ian Christopher Fletcher (eds.), European Imperialism 1830-1930

Hergé, The Adventures of Tintin in the Congo

*Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost

*Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

*Chinue Achebe, Things Fall Apart
All other required readings on Electronic Reserves(on-line), and indicated as (ER)

  • Students should come to all classes prepared, and participate actively in discussions. The weekly readings must be completed before class.

  • Each student must pair up with two other students to lead discussion once during the quarter. Leading discussion means preparing questions for the class ahead of time, which will help students understand the most important points in the week’s assigned readings. Your group will then guide the class through the readings. You may wish to use hand-outs or power point.

  • There will be three short papers due during the quarter and a longer final paper due at the end.


The final paper should be ten double-spaced pages minimum. Your bibliography must include a minimum of six sources, and no more than two can be websites. For the paper, you must choose one of the following options:
1) Based on what you have learned about King Leopold’s Congo, choose another violent “colonial conquest” to explore in the nineteenth or twentieth century. The point of the paper is to explain the excessive violence in its many forms (physical violence; racist violence; violence against women etc.); for this option I have placed on reserve books on some of the following topics: colonial violence in general; the Armenian genocide; the 19th century American war against the Sioux; the British in India; the My Lai massacre in Vietnam; the German massacre of the Herero in Southwest Africa; you are free to identify another conquest on your own.
2) Based on what you have learned about the origins of Western protest against the atrocities of the Congo, choose another human rights campaign in the twentieth century to explore. You could consider writing the history of anti-colonial protest in Great Britain, for example, focusing on Gandhi in India, or of the anti-slavery movement in the US or Great Britain.
3) Consider writing a paper on some aspect of missionary activity in Africa during the colonial period.
4) You may write a paper on the Belgian Congo, drawing upon Hochschild and Conrad but also the Roger Casement Congo Report (on reserve) and the documents in your copy of Conrad. The point of the paper is to identify a particular aspect of Belgian rule that interests you and analyze it closely.
5) Using Tintin as your inspiration, find some other examples of children’s literature that helped justify imperialism in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, and analyze how this literature promoted imperialist ideas in a variety of ways. Or write a paper comparing Conrad and Kipling, drawing on the documents in the Pearson edition assigned in the course.
6) Write a paper on a specific incident of extreme colonial violence at the end of the era of imperialism: the suppression of the Mau Mau revolt in British East Africa in the 1950s. For this paper you should compare two recent books (both on reserve) on the subject -- Caroline Elkins’ Imperial Reckoning, and David Anderson, History of the Hanged -- and consider why the authors have told the same story in two very different ways. What do we learn from reading these two books together?
6) a paper on another topic discussed in class, based on additional primary and/or secondary sources, and approved by me.
Students must consult with me about their topics by the fifth week of the quarter, commit to a topic by the seventh week, and submit annotated bibliographies by the ninth week of the quarter.

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