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COURSE NAME: "African Atlantic: Slavery and Beyond - HONORS (This course carries 4 semester hours of credits. A minimum CUM GPA of 3.5 is required)"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2020

EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 11:30-12:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: Junior Standing; Corequisite: EN 110

History Research Seminar300-level history courses designated by the prefix HS-RS indicate courses being offered as Research Seminars. These courses are writing-intensive and help to train students to carry out original research by guiding them through the preparation of a significant research paper. History majors are encouraged to take these before their senior year, and especially before the semester in which they prepare their thesis.
This course explores the roles played by and the experiences of Africans and their descendents in the Atlantic World from the development of regular trading contacts between West Africans and Europeans in the fifteenth century through the early stages of emancipation in the first half of the nineteenth century. Central themes are the development of distinctively African-American cultural patterns and identities, the diversity of African and African-American experiences, and African and African-American contributions to the making of the modern world.

Satisfies "Early Modern History" core course requirement for History majors.
We will determine the additional components for the Honor's variant of this course during the first two weeks of the semester--these may take the form of additional readings, discussions and short papers or of a more substantial research assignment.
For an up-to-date syllabus regarding all other aspects of the course, see the syllabus for the 'regular' section of the course--available at https://www.johncabot.edu/academics/course-schedules-syllabi.aspx (Click on HS-RS 372).

In successfully completing this course, you will further develop your abilities to:

  • Evaluate/analyze differing scholarly arguments/ interpretations of historical problems (including ethnohistorical approaches)
  • Understand how context and audience contribute to shape historical interpretation/perspective
  • Formulate a research question about a historical topic
  • Assemble and critically evaluate primary and secondary sources
  • Be aware of the importance of finding, using and producing reliable information
  • Respect academic integrity and ethical standards
  • Effectively communicate information and ideas orally and in writing in accurate, polished, and persuasive English
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American DiasporaStephanie E. SmallwoodHarvard University Press978-0674030688 Available at the Almost Corner Bookshop
Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400–1800 2nd editionJohn ThorntonCambridge University Press978-0521627245 Available at the Almost Corner Bookshop

In Class Participation This course will primarily be run as a seminar in which we discuss the assigned readings. As such, your active participation in our discussions is absolutely necessary to making the course work well. The high percentage of your grade that will be based on your participation reflects that fact. You should bring a question based on the readings that you believe we should discuss to each class. On occasion, additional brief in class or out of class reaction papers may be assigned as components of your participation grade. Please note that behaving in ways that create distractions for other members of the class (including the professor) will lower your participation grade. Such behavior includes, but is not limited to: messaging, checking social media, catching up on e-mail, watching on-line videos, playing games, reading non-class related materials, studying for other courses, shopping on-line, and generally any activity that detracts from your or any other classmate's full participation in what we are doing in the classroom.20%
Reaction Papers (3-4)In each of the reaction papers (approximately two double-spaced pages in length, and see the course schedule for due dates), you will develop a brief but coherent and well-supported argument regarding the readings for the day on which the paper is due. In these papers, you should not summarize the reading, but rather develop a main thought of your own building on those readings. Ways of developing such arguments include, but are not limited to: critiquing some part of the argument of a secondary source, testing some part of the argument of a secondary source through the analysis of a primary source, comparing and contrasting different readings, or developing a point made by one of the authors more fully and in doing so explaining more of what it may tell us about the subject under discussion. Your grade for these reaction papers will be determined by the strength and focus of your analysis, the persuasiveness of your argument (including quality of writing), and the originality of your thought.20%
Research Paper (including draft, revision, and presentation, 12-15 pages)For the research paper (12-15 pages), you will explore a topic appropriate for the course chosen in consultation with me. Your paper should build on both primary and secondary sources, and in preparing it, I will guide you through the processes of preparing a first draft and revising that draft to produce a stronger final paper. You also will present this paper to the rest of the class for discussion. For these discussions, each of you will also review at least one of your colleagues’ papers, providing both a written review (for the author and for me) and an oral commentary during the discussion of her/his paper in class. The grade on this assignment will be determined by the strength of your analysis and research, the persuasiveness of your argument (including quality of writing), and the originality of your thought. 30%
Final ExamThe final exam will be composed of two essay questions I will give you the week before the exam. You will answer one of those questions. The exam will be open book and open notes. Your grade on the exam will depend upon the analytical strength and persuasiveness of your arguments, your capacity to discuss the material we cover in the course as a whole, your command of the course readings, and the factual accuracy of your answers. 30%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is a highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

See above on participation.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.



Accessing Shared Documents on MyJCU 

1. Go to the internal web site (MY JCU).

2. After you have logged in, click on the course post-it for Fall 2020, HS RS372. Then click on shared files.

3. You should then be able to access any course handouts not accessible by clicking the links on this syllabus.

4. Be sure to check the handouts page frequently for changes and updates.  Similarly, I will post messages on the MyJCU board should I need to contact you in between class meetings (e.g., in the case of an unexpected class cancellation, etc.).

COURSE SCHEDULE  (N.B.  The schedule and specific readings listed below may change.)

Sept. 4 Introductions: What is the Atlantic World?

Sept. 6 Opening the Atlantic:  Africans and Iberians
     Thornton, 1-42
     "The Beginnings of a Regular European Trade," (Handout)

Sept. 11 Atlantic Trade and Its Effects in Africa
Thornton, 43-71
     Northrup, "Atlantic Exports and Technology" (Handout)                       

Sept. 13  Slavery in Africa                                                       
, 72-97                                
     Piot, "Of Slaves and the Gift," 31-49

Sept. 18  The Atlantic Slave Trade, I:  Effects in Africa             
, 98-125     
     Hair, "African Narratives of Enslavement" (Handout)
     Manning, "Social and Demographic Transformations" (Handout)

Sept. 20  The Atlantic Slave Trade, II:  To and on the African Coast
     Smallwood, 1-64

Sept. 21  OFFICIAL MAKE-UP FOR NOVEMBER 1 The Atlantic Slave Trade, III:  Numbers From The Trader's Point of View
     Smallwood, 65-100
Sept. 25  The Atlantic Slave Trade, IV:  Experiencing the Middle Passage
     Smallwood, 101-152
     Equiano, The Interesting Narrative (MyJCU--Shared Files)

Sept. 27  The Atlantic Slave Trade, V:  American Arrivals
     Smallwood, 153-207
Oct. 2  The Atlantic Slave Trade, VI:  Numbers, Mortality, Departures, Destinations
    Explore the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (http://www.slavevoyages.org/tast/index.faces)

Oct. 4  The Beginnings of American Slavery
, 129-151    
     Eltis, “Europeans and the Rise and Fall of African Slavery in the
Americas:  An Interpretation,” 1399-1423 

Oct. 9  Plantation Life:  Work, Culture, and Discipline
, 152-182                
      Brown, “Spiritual Terror and Sacred Authority in Jamaican Slave Society,” 24-53 (Handout)                              

Oct. 11  Making the Plantations:  Agriculture and African Technology
      Carney, "'With Grains of Rice in Her Hair': Rice in Colonial Brazil," 1-27 (EBSCO)

Oct. 12  OFFICIAL MAKE-UP FOR NOVEMBER 22  Gender and the Making of Slavery and Race
      Gray White, “The Nature of Female Slavery,” Ar'n't I A Woman?, 62-90 (Reserve)
      Brown, “ Engendering Racial Difference, 1640-1670,” Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs, 107-136 (Reserve)

Oct. 16  Africa in America:  Ethnicity and Nations                                          
, 183-205
      Dubois and Scott (hereafter DS), 269-292
      Preliminary Bibliography For Research Paper Due

Oct. 18  African America:  Creolization                                                        
, 206-234
      DS, 116-158

Oct. 23  Afro-American Religions:  Christianity                     
, 235-271    
      DS, 101-115, 159-192

Oct. 25  Afro-American Religions:  Vaudou
      Fandrich, “Yoruba Influences on Haitian Vodou and New Orleans Voodoo,” 775-791

Oct. 30  Back on the Ocean:  African and African American Sailors              
      Bolster, “African Roots of Black Seafaring,” Black Jacks, 44-67 (On Reserve)
      DS, 69-98

Nov. 6  Resistance, I:  Everyday Resistance and Accommodation    
, 272-279    
      Genovese, Roll Jordan Roll: The World the Slaves Made, 597-621, 637-648 (On Reserve)
      Draft of Research Paper Due

Nov. 8  Resistance, II:  Escape
, 279-292 (review 272-279)
      DS, 47-68

Nov. 13  Independent African American Societies:  Maroon Communities       
, 292-300
      DS, 236-265     
Nov. 15  Resistance, III:  Rebellion     
, 300-303
      DS, 11-25, 214-235
      Beginning of Presentation/Discussion of Research Papers

Nov. 20  Research Papers--Discussion/Presentation
Nov. 27  Slavery and Slave Resistance in the 'Age of Revolutions', I
, 300-334

Nov 29  Slavery and Slave Resistance in the 'Age of Revolutions', II
DS, 195-213, 293-322
      Recommended:  DS, 26-46

Dec. 4  Emancipation?
DS, 334-395
      Recommended: DS, 323-333

Dec. 6 Back to Africa:  African American Views of Africa
     De Groot, “The Bush Negro Chiefs Visit
Africa: Diary of an Historic Trip,” in Price, Maroon Societies, 389-398 (On Reserve)
, "Representing the Race," Middle Passages, 57-98 (Handout, focus on pages 76-90)
     Last Presentation/Discussion of Research Papers


FINAL EXAM--December 11, and Final Draft of Research Paper is Due (When you hand in your final draft of your research paper on Tuesday, you should also hand in the earlier draft with my comments as well.)