BREAK THE CHAINS
Revolt, Rebellion, and Resistance in the World of Atlantic Slavery
January 12 through May 5, 2016, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2-5 pm
The course will meet at the Newberry Library, 60 West Walton Street, Chicago.
Applications Due: October 19, 2015, 5:00 p.m.
Special Note for HST majors: Successful completion of the Newberry Library Undergraduate Seminar can satisfy the gateway-capstone sequence requirement for HST majors (carrying the credit equivalent of a 300-level HST course and HST 390).
From the early 1500s until the abolition of slavery in the U.S. in 1865, the Western Hemisphere witnessed hundreds of slave revolts. Slave rebellions toppled the colonial government in Haiti and disrupted the flow of slaves, money, and goods in many other places. Slaves also engaged in untold quiet acts of resistance that challenged colonial power and asserted human dignity. Slave rebellions gave rise to some of the first multicultural communities in the New World, inspired the abolitionist movement, and saw the creation of the first anti-racist declaration of national independence (Haiti, 1804).
Drawing on the Newberry’s significant collections in Atlantic materials, as well as on the most recent scholarship in history, archaeology, and literary studies, “Break the Chains” will explore the many varieties of slave resistance in the Atlantic world. Encountering primary documents from Europe, Africa, and especially the Caribbean, students will investigate the major rebellions that shook the foundations of the slave economy. They will also study the writings of major figures such as Olaudah Equiano and Frederick Douglass, who focused international attention on the plight of slaves through printed publication and tireless activism. In addition to examining groundbreaking events and writers, students will look at a variety of materials from the archive of slavery (planters’ writings, slave ship logs, media coverage of fugitive slaves) with an eye toward revealing the many small ways in which slaves resisted.
In weekly class meetings that will discuss a common set of readings, the course will explore the significant sites of resistance in the Atlantic world, from slave ships and plantation fields to print shops and parliaments. Topics will include revolt among maritime laborers; the creation of multicultural communities among enslaved African and Indigenous people; Caribbean slave revolts in the era of democratic revolution in the U.S. and France; the relationship between slave resistance and the abolitionist movement; slave conspiracies in the decades before the U.S. Civil War; and the influence of slave rebellions on the philosophy, music, and literature of the period. Throughout, we will consider whether slave resistance represents an alternative history for the ideas of freedom now enshrined in the laws of Western states.
Each student will also develop an independent research project. The project will be guided by the instructors and by the Newberry staff, who will assist the students in exploring the library’s extensive holdings. Although the course will focus on slave resistance, seminar participants will be encouraged to inquire into any aspect of Atlantic labor economies. A symposium at the end of the course will give students the opportunity to present their projects to the Newberry community. Proficiency in a language other than English is not required, though students will have the opportunity to pursue research in other languages.
About the Instructors
John Donoghue is associate professor of history at Loyola University Chicago, specializing in the early modern Atlantic world. He is the author of Fire under the Ashes: An Atlantic History of the English Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 2013) and co-editor, with Evelyn Jennings, of Building the Atlantic Empires: Unfree Labor and Imperial States in the Political Economy of Capitalism, ca. 1500-1914 (Brill, forthcoming 2015). His new book project is tentatively entitled The Life and Times of Captain Morgan, or, A Short History of Outlaws, Empires, and the Bloody Birth of Piratical Capitalism.
Jeffrey Glover is associate professor of English at Loyola University Chicago. He is the author of Paper Sovereigns: Anglo-Native Treaties and the Law of Nations, 1604-1664 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014) and co-editor with Matt Cohen of Colonial Mediascapes: Sensory Worlds of the Early Americas (University of Nebraska Press, 2014). His next book is about the laws of war in the encounter between Europeans and Native Americans.
General Information and How to Apply
The seminar is team taught by instructors from different disciplines.
Twenty students participate in the seminar, five from each of the following universities: DePaul, Loyola, UIC, and Roosevelt.
This is a semester-long seminar that meets at the Newberry Library, January 12 through May 5, 2016, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:00–5:00pm
For DePaul students the seminar counts for 9 credit hours (4.5 for Winter Quarter and 4.5 for Spring Quarter). These credits will count for classes in two departments, to be determined by the student and his or her advisor.
The course fulfills the JYEL requirement for those who need it.
During the first part of the course students investigate topics related to the seminar’s theme and work with the various types of resources that the Newberry has to offer. Then, under the guidance of the instructors and using primary sources from the Newberry, they select a topic to explore and develop into a research paper and presentation. (Students must complete the semester-long course to receive credit for either quarter.)
DePaul applicants should go ahead and register for WQ 2016 as they would otherwise. They should, however, be ready to drop one course and make TTH afternoons available if they are accepted into the program. They will know by Thanksgiving whether or not they have been accepted.
DePaul students should contact Professor Glen Carman, Department of Modern Languages at 773.325.1869 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.