Please note that this syllabus is subject to change if necessary.
Instructor’s contact information:
Professor Gillian Glaes
University of Montana-Missoula
Office: Liberals Arts building 259
Mailbox : history department office (2nd floor/Liberal Arts building)
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 2:30-4:30 p.m. in Liberal Arts 259 (history department wing)
If you cannot meet with me during my office hours, please let me know and we can schedule an appointment.
Methods of communication with students:
Moodle, email, in-class time, and individual conversations and meetings
(althoughnot necessarily in that order)
In your email messages, please include the course number and topic in the subject line.
Per official UM policy, please use your UM email account for email communications.
Please remember to maintain a professional demeanor in all interactions, including email and other electronic forms of correspondence.
Modern African History focuses on the history of Sub-Saharan Africa from approximately the eighteenth century to the present. Because of the complexity and size of the African continent, the course does not attempt to provide a comprehensive history of each country, people, and region. Rather, it is organized chronologically and thematically, examining issues of race, gender, ethnicity, violence, the environment, disease, and nationalism in the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial contexts.
The course is divided into three sections. Phase one begins by looking at Africa before colonization, emphasizing the diversity and range of African cultures, peoples, languages, societies, and religions in the pre-colonial era. We will examine several important international historical developments, including the impact of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade on Africa and its peoples. Following the abolition of the slave trade internationally, the course evaluates the shift to legitimate trade with the African continent. Topics discussed include the commodities and resources traded by African groups as well as the presence of missionaries and explorers and their influence in different regions of Africa.
This shift preceded the movement away from European spheres of influence to formal colonization in the 1880s, which comprises the course’s second phase. During that time, European powers such as Britain, France, Germany, and Belgium created formal colonies with direct and indirect forms of administration. Rather than exclusively focusing on the European perspective, however, this section emphasizes the impact of colonialism on various African societies. We will ask how Africans responded to colonialism and how the colonies’ contributions to major world events such as the First and Second World Wars.
During the third and final phase, the course looks at the decolonization process and independence movements across Sub-Sahara Africa while considering the legacy of colonialism. This final portion also explores the contemporary economic, social, and political history of Africa from 1960 to the present.
exploring a “non-western” region of the world and its interactions with the western world
understanding the trajectory of African history from the slave trade to the present
using primary and secondary sources to learn about and understand African history
considering African history from the African perspective
continuing to develop strong writing, analytical, and communication skills
available for purchase at The Bookstore at UM
Richard Reid, A History of Africa, 1800 to the Present
Worger, Clark, and Alpers, Africa and the West: A Documentary Anthology, Vol. 2
Randy Sparks, The Two Princes of Calabar (trans-Atlantic perspective on slavery)
Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (Nigeria)
Camara Laye, The Dark Child: An Autobiography of an African Boy (Guinea)
Sindiwe Magona, To My Children’s Children ((South Africa)
Ngugi wa Thiong'o, A Grain of Wheat (Kenya)
Joseph Sebarenzi, God Sleeps in Rwanda (Rwanda)
Expectations for student conduct:
Remember to maintain a friendly, open, and professional demeanor while in class. To nurture your rapport with others in the class, remember to:
maintain a collegial and a professional demeanor throughout the semester
(please do not serve as a distraction to others and their learning)
come to class on time, participate actively, and pay attention
refrain from using laptops and tablets for anything other than note-taking
(when using laptops & other electronic devices for academic purposes, you must
follow all UM policies)
refrain from eating in class (non-alcoholic drinks in closed containers are okay – if you spill them, though, please clean them up)
avoid side-bar conversations during class
avoid texting in class (I will mark you absent for doing so)
avoid sleeping in class (I will mark you absent for doing so)
treat your fellow students and the instructor with respect.
UM’s Student Code of Conduct governs student behavior on and beyond campus. Please see especially the section VI on General Conduct.
Issues with academic integrity, plagiarism, and/or cheating will be addressed according to the University of Montana-Missoula’s Student Code of Conduct and, specifically, its policies regarding academic misconduct. See especially section V on academic misconduct.
The Academic Misconduct policy within the Student Code of Conduct defines misconduct as plagiarism, misconduct during an academic exercise, unauthorized possession or examination of course material, tampering with course materials, submitting false information, submitting work previously presented in another course, improperly influencing conduct, submitting or arranging substitution for a student during an examination or other academic exercise, facilitating academic misconduct, or altering academic documentation (transcripts, etc.).
I assume that you have read and understand these policies. I also assume that you will abide by them and conduct yourself in an ethical manner throughout the semester. I will be checking your essays for originality. Instances of academic misconduct will be dealt with swiftly and in accordance with UM’s policies. If you have any questions, please contact me.
Accessibility and accommodations:
The course materials, interactions, and policies are intended to accommodate all students. The University of Montana assures equal access to instruction by supporting collaboration between students with disabilities, instructors, and Disability Services for Students. If you have a disability that requires an accommodation, please contact me during the first week of the semester so that proper accommodations can be provided. For further information or if you feel that you have a disability for which you need accommodation, please contact:
Disability Services for Students (DSS)
Lommasson Center, 154 Voice/text: (406) 243-2243
The University of Montana Fax: (406) 243-5330
Missoula, MT 59812 Email: email@example.com
Your final grade will be calculated based on the following categories:
10% ATTENDENCE AND PROMPTNESS
Attendance: Ten percent of your final grade is based on attendance and promptness. Keep in mind that missing classes in general will still reduce your overall attendance grade (with the exception of school-sponsored activities). Please email me with an update if you miss class.
Promptness: Make to sure arrive on time. Be present and ready to go when class starts. Consistently arriving late to class may result in a lower grade in this category. 10% PARTICIPATION
The scheduled discussions comprise an important aspect of this course. Your grade will be calculated in part how much you contribute to the class in the form of active participation during formal discussions and in responding to and posing questions during lectures.
In class participation will be graded on the following scale:
9-10 = Student participates in class discussion without prompting and demonstrates a familiarity with the assigned materials.
7-8 = Student demonstrates familiarity with assigned materials, but only participates when called upon.
6 = Student participates in class discussion without prompting, but demonstrates little or no familiarity with assigned materials.
5 = Student rarely participates in class discussion.
0-4 = Student does not participate in class discussions and demonstrates little or no familiarity with assigned materials.
25% ONLINE DISCUSSION FORUMS BEFORE FORMAL DISCUSSIONS
Each student is to post a minimum 150- response to and analysis of the assigned readings beyond the textbook on the designated Moodle discussion forum before each of the 6 of 7 scheduled discussions. NOTE: Discussion facilitators still need to complete forum posts during the week in which they are leading the discussion.
Posts will be evaluated on the following scale:
9-10 = Student’s reflection is submitted on time and expresses critical thinking about the assigned readings for the week with direct references to readings. The post is well-written and contains no grammatical or spelling mistakes.
7-8 = Student’s reflection is on time and expresses critical thinking about the assigned readings for the week but with indirect references to readings. The post is well-written and contains only a few grammatical or spelling mistakes.
6 = Student’s reflection expresses some critical thinking about topics from the week, but without any reference to the assigned readings. The post contains grammatical mistakes and/or incomplete sentences.
5 = Reflection contains speculative comments without support from the content of the course (e.g., assigned readings, lectures, etc.) or comments are not relevant to the week’s readings.
0-4 = Student did not post a reflection or posted the reflection after the deadline.
10% DISCUSSION FACILITATION
As a discussion facilitator, you will write 6-7 discussion questions based on the assigned reading beyond the textbook for one of our formal discussions, post them to the appropriate Moodle forum by Tuesday at 5 p.m. before the Thursday discussion or Sunday at 5 p.m. before a Tuesday discussion, and then lead the all-class discussion based on the questions that you’ve written. We will hold six formal discussions.
There are two ways to approach the formal discussion. As a group, you can decide whether to:
hold the discussion with the entire class. Each member of your group can ask 1-2 of the questions you’ve written and submitted.
have each group member meet with a smaller group of students and lead the discussion with that smaller group.
Both approaches work well. Please decide which one you would like to use when your group leads discussion.
Here are helpful guidelines on how to lead a class discussion.
Each discussion facilitator will evaluated on the following scale:
9-10 = Questions: discussion leaders have provided questions that lead the class to understand the significance of the readings beyond the textbook. Planning: discussion is well planned demonstrating critical thinking about the assigned materials. Content: discussion questions require analysis from the class rather than summary. Form: moderators speak clearly, express enthusiasm for the subject, and elicit active participation from the class. All discussion leaders are on time and ready to lead discussion at the start of class.
8 = Discussion was deficient in one of the four areas: questions, planning, content, or form.
7 = Discussion was deficient in two of the four areas: questions, planning, content, or form.
6 = Discussion was deficient in three of the four areas: questions, planning, content, or form.
0-5 = Discussion was deficient in all of the four areas: questions, planning, content, and form.
NOTE: Failure to submit questions to the appropriate Moodle forum on time and/or to arrive unprepared to lead discussion will result in a grade of “zero” for the entire class.
45% TWO ESSAY EXAMS
You will receive separate instructions for the take-home exams.
Take-home exam #1 (20%): due to Moodle due to Moodle Friday, 10/16 by 5 p.m.
Take-home exam #2 (25%): due to Moodle Tuesday, 12/15 by 12:10 p.m. (finals week)
For each take-home exam, please submit 1 Word document with both essays.
Please cite your sources using the Turabian/Chicago style citation method (endnotes).
The Mansfield Library has resources on Chicago-style citations.
UM’s writing center is a great resource when writing historical essays.
Take-home exams will be graded on the following criteria:
The student demonstrates an awareness of context, audience and purpose (15%)
The student demonstrates critical and creative thinking (30%)
The student develops ideas, claims, and a central argument with specific information and detail (25%)
The student finds, evaluates, integrates, and correctly cites information from appropriate in-class primary and secondary sources (10%)
The student creates an effective organizational strategy, in accord with the expectations of particular disciplines (10%)
The student creates clear, fluent, correct prose (10%)
Based on your performance in this course, you will be evaluated on the following grade scale:
F 59 and below
For students taking the course “credit/no credit”:
From the UM catalogue: “Courses taken to satisfy General Education Requirements must be taken for traditional letter grade. Courses required for the student's major or minor must be taken for traditional letter grade, except at the discretion of the department concerned.
A grade of CR is assigned for work deserving credit (A through D-) and a grade of NCR is assigned for work of failing quality (F). CR and NCR grades do not affect grade point averages. The grades of CR and NCR are not defined in terms of their relationship to traditional grades for graduate course work.
Election of the credit/no credit option must be indicated at registration time or within the first 15 class days on CyberBear. Between the 16th day and the last day of instruction before finals week, a student may request a change from credit/no credit enrollment to an enrollment under the A-F grade system, or the reverse, by means of a Course Add/Change Form; note that not all such requests are approved.”
To pass this class on the credit/no credit grade scale at UM, you need a “D” average (a minimum of a 60% overall). From my perspective, that means that you need to pass all elements of the class – participation and attendance, course assignments, and exams. Please see me if you have any questions.
**Please bring the appropriate texts to class when we hold formal discussions.**
UMOnline contact information for technological issues:
Having trouble with Moodle? Unable to post or log in? Can’t submit assignments?
Avoid waiting until the last minute to contact UM Online Tech support or me. If you are experiencing technical difficulties and need immediate assistance, contact:
Phone: 406.243.4999 or 866.225.1641 (toll-free)
Web: UM Online Technical Support Note: Firefox is the preferred internet browser for Moodle. For more information go to UMOnline.
COURSE OUTLINE AND ASSIGNMENTS
WEEK 1: Course Overview and Thinking about Africa
T 9/1: Course introduction and overview
Assignment for the next class:
Reid, A History of Africa, Ch. 1: Introduction – Understanding the Contours of Africa’s Past
Sample primary source – the poem “Africa” by David Diop
Sample secondary source – “Talking about Tribe”
Please write a reflection on the week 1 Moodle forum on the readings assigned for today of approximately 150 words by 9:00 on Thursday 9/3. Analyze the readings, discuss what you learned, and reflect on how or whether they challenged your view of Africa.
Come to class ready to discuss the readings and your forum post.
TH 9/3: An introduction to Sub-Saharan Africa: Ideas about Africa/Perceptions of Africa
Discussion of the reading assignment, forum posts, and perceptions of Africa
Assignment for the next class:
Reid, A History of Modern Africa
Ch. 2: Western Transitions (pgs. 23-32)
Ch. 3: Eastern Intrusions: Slaves and Ivory in Eastern Africa
Begin Randy Sparks, The Two Princes of Calabar
WEEK 2: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
T 9/8: The development, trajectory, and scope of the trans-Atlantic slave trade
Assignment for the next class:
Continue Randy Sparks, The Two Princes of Calabar
Olaudah Equiano (2 excerpts)
John Bardot & James Barbot, Jr.
Voices from the days of slavery (select a few to listen to or read on this website)
abolition of slavery:
Mary Birkett, “A Poem on the African Slave Trade”
“The Middle Passage”
Watch: (on Moodle)
overview of the slave trade
Frederick Douglass, “What to a Negro is the Fourth of July?” (read by James Earl Jones)
TH 9/10: Documentary: “The Slaving Kingdoms” from Wonders in the African World