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Topics in American Culture Studies: Slavery, Race, and Revolution

History 3363 - Fall 2020

How does our understanding of the so-called Age of Revolutions change when we consider that freedom, and not slavery, was the "peculiar institution"? Slavery and the slave trade were the economic engines that drove European colonial expansion and generated regimes of racial ideology from Virginia to Jamaica and Brazil. Beginning in the late-18th century, slave systems across the Americas received sustained challenges from above and below in the forms of large-scale revolts and new political movements questioning the morality of holding people in bondage. This course examines the significance of slavery, race, and revolt in connective as well as comparative terms across the American, French, Haitian, and Latin American Revolutions (c. 1770-1830). We will cover topics including the meanings of slave revolt and resistance in the creation of New World slave societies; the development of racial ideologies in Enlightenment thinking; the role of slavery in the American Revolution; the rise of transatlantic abolitionism; the origins and significance of the Haitian Revolution; and, the spread of revolutionary ideals throughout the African diaspora. Students will complete this course with a broader understanding of how the institution of slavery shaped the major social, political, and cultural developments in this pivotal era in modern history. Secondary source readings will introduce students to scholarly debates on the subject; weekly critical discussions of primary sources will train students in historical methodology; and, writing a research paper on a carefully chosen topic will give students the opportunity to produce historical scholarship themselves.

Section 01

Topics in American Culture Studies: Slavery, Race, and Revolution
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