Plan de cours

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André Kaenel kaenel@univ-nancy2.fr IEP Nancy 2010-2011 Humanities Fundamental Course Fall 2010 Slavery and American Memory This course examines representations of slavery in the United States, from the early days of the Republic to the present. Its focus is less on slavery as an age-defining moment in US history than on the many “cultural texts” it has produced: photographs, paintings, engravings, slave narratives, pamphlets, songs, sermons and, especially, movies. The relations between the past and the present, fact and fiction, history and myth constitutes the backbone of the course. Week 1 Remembering (and Atoning for) Slavery (9 Sept): Reading: David Brion Davis, “The Central Fact of American History” Suggested study questions: What are some of the challenges and difficulties which historians of American slavery in the United States face today? One of the best historians of slavery, David Brion Davis, argues for example that slavery is at once “the central fact of American history” and that it suffered from “momentous neglect.” How does Davis propose to deal with this paradox? And how does the movement for “slavery reparations” (please do a quick web search with this expression to understand it) propose to deal with the heritage of slavery? What do you think of the “reparations” movement? Week 2 Condoning Slavery (16 Sept): Watch and listen to James O. Horton speak about “Slavery in the Founding Era” Reading: The Three-Fifths ...

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André Kaenel kaenel univ-nanc2.fr2010-2011IEP Nanc Humanities Fundamental Course Fall 2010 Slaver andAmerican Memor This course examines representations of slavery in the United States, from the early days of the Republic to the present. Its focus is less on slavery as an age-defining moment in US history than on the many “cultural texts” it has produced: photographs, paintings, engravings, slave narratives, pamphlets, songs, sermons and, especially, movies. The relations between the past and the present, fact and fiction, history and myth constitutes the backbone of the course. Week 1Remembering (and Atoning for) Slavery(9 Sept):Reading: David Brion Davis, “The Central Fact of American HistorySuggested study questions: What are some of the challenges and difficulties which historians of American slavery in the United States face today? One of the best historians of slavery, David Brion Davis, argues for example that slavery is at once “the central fact of American history” and that it suffered from “momentous neglect.” How does Davis propose to deal with this paradox? And how does the movement for “slavery reparations” (please do a quick web search with this expression to understand it) propose to deal with the heritage of slavery? What do you think of the “reparations” movement?Week 2Condoning Slavery(16 Sept):Watch and listento James O. Horton speak about “Slavery in the Founding Era” Reading:The Three-Fifths Clause of the Constitution; George WashingtonLetterthe on abolition of slavery [PDF format available];Fugitive Slave Law of 1793; John AdamsLetteron abolition; Thomas JeffersonsNotes on Slavery; George Fitzhugh,Negro SlaveryTEAM 1 & 2 Recommended:A House Divided: America in the Age of LincolnSuggested study questions: What were some of the main arguments used to justify slavery since the origins of the Republic? Based on this selection of documents, can you detect changes in the discourse on slavery between the 1780s and the 1850s or is there on the contrary a continuity? Either way, what explanations can be given?Week 3Contesting Slavery(23 Sept):Reading:Manifesto of the American Anti-Slavery Society (1833); William Lloyd Garrison Letteron abolition and slavery; Theodore D. Weld on thecondition of slaves in America& American Slavery As It Is; Sarah Grimké,Narrative and Testimony; Angelina Grimké,From Antislavery to Womens Rights; Onereaction to the 1850 Fugitive Slave lawRecommended:A Brief History of the American Abolitionist Movement;Abolition, Anti-Slavery Movements, and the Rise of the Sectional ControversySuggested study questions: Why did abolitionism develop in the USA as of the 1830s? What were some of its principal arguments and how do you think it differed in its tone from the pronouncements of pro-slavery advocates? Based on this selection, how unified would you say the abolitionist movement was before the Civil War?TEAM 3 & 4
Week 4Antebellum Images of Slavery(30 Sept):Reading: Go through the 3 steps of “White into Black: Seeing Race, Slavery, and Anti-Slavery in Antebellum America” and answer the questions posed at the end of each step; Alex Bontemps, “Seeing Slavery: How paintings make words look differentRecommended: Browse through “Images of African-American Slavery and Freedom” and “The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual RecordSuggested study questions:After reading about and looking at images of slavery, what would you say are the main questions or problems that such representations raise? For example, Alex Bontemps argues that blacks were invisible in early American portraiture (to be more accurate, he writes that their “subjective presence” is missing,)? Do you agree with him? Why/Why not?TEAM 5 & 6 Week 5Frederick Douglass,NarrativeIHTML version)(7 Oct):Reading: “Preface” by Garrison and “Letter” by W. Phillips, Chapters I-V Recommended:Douglass Timeline,David Blight, “The Slave Narrative: A Genre and a Source;Listen to William L. Andrews discuss Douglasss autobiography as a source of information on the man and the institution of slavery (MP3)Suggested study questions: How does Douglasss portrait contribute to the argument theNarrative intendsto make? What are the functions and purposes of the “Preface” and the “Letter”? In these introductory chapters, what sort of information does Douglass give and what sort does he withholdand why? TEAM 7 & 8Week 6Frederick Douglass,NarrativeII(14 Oct):Reading: Chapters VI-endRecommended: F.Douglass,Letterto his former master Suggested study questions: What are the “evils of slavery” for Douglass? What is his view of the relations between slavery and religion and how do you think it might have been received by theNarratives predominantly white readership (see esp. “Appendix”)? Week 7Twentieth-Century Visions of Race and Slavery(21 Oct):Reading: David Blight, “The Birth of a Genre: Slavery on FilmRecommended:Without Sanctuary: Photographs and Postcards of Lynching in America”[Warning: this site contains extremely graphic and disturbing photographs]; Kara Walker exhibit at the Whitney Museum, “My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love” [Browse through Walkers works, listen to radio interviews and read some reviews of her work]Suggested study questions: How has the memory of slavery been kept alive (or perhaps made safe, or silenced) in Hollywood film? What are some of the specific challenges faced by American filmmakers (and film historians) in portraying slavery? What relations do photographs of lynchings (all taken after the abolition of slavery) bear to slavery itself? Reflect upon the shock value of these photographs compared with Kara Walkers works (e.g. in terms of production, content and audience).Mid-term exam due in class TEAM 9 & 10 Week 8African-Americans on Film I(11 Nov):Comparison and contrast of two documentaries on Blacks in Hollywood cinema, “Classified X” (1997) and “Small Steps, Big Strides” (1998) (both available in the class folder on the server) Suggested study questions: How do these documentaries frame the history of Hollywoods treatment of Blacks (i.e. what do they emphasize or minimize)? Which one do you think is the better one and why?
TEAM 11 & 12 Week 9African-Americans (and Slavery?) on Film II(18 Nov): Watch eitherThe Birth of a Nation(1915) orGone With the Wind(1939) Suggested study questions: Both films are universally celebrated as landmarks of Hollywood history. They are also often criticizedas racist or patronizingly stereotypical in their representations for Blacks. Do you agree with this assessment in the light of the other texts and documents we have studied so far? Read some reviews of the film you have chosen to help you think through these issues. TEAM 13 & 14 Week 10AmistadI(25 Nov):Reading: Eric Foner, “The Amistad Case in Fact and FilmRecommended:Online resourceson the Amistad case at the Gilder Lehrman Center;Listento the interview with historian Howard Jones, “Amistad: The Ship and Movie” (Real Audio);Sally Hadden,review of AmistadSuggested study questions: ClickhereTEAM 15 & 16 Week 11Amistad II(2 Dec)Reading: N. Z. Davis,Slaves on Screenextract pp. 128-131) Recommended:Judith Jackson Fossetts review of Daviss book, “Slaves You Have Never SeenTEAM 17 Week 12:Final Exam(9 Dec)Organization & Evaluation Organization of the course: The course program lists the material (texts, images, audio, video) you are expected to study for each week. Complementary sources intended to broaden your understanding of each weeks topic are listed as “Recommended”. The study questions are meant to help you focus your reading and take part in weekly class discussion. Affordable paperback editions of theNarrative of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave(please note: 1845 edition only) are easily available and should be preferred to the online version. The DVD of Steven SpielbergsAmistad(1997) has been ordered for class use (and so haveBirth of a Nation andGone With the Wind). Itis also readily available at affordable prices for students who wish to purchase their own copy.Evaluation for the course will be based on the following: Mid-term take-home exam, due in class on week 7 (20%)Final in-class exam (40%) Oral presentation (30%) Participation (10%) Oral Presentation: For discussion sessions, two teams of three students each will be responsible for presenting the material assigned for the week and for animating a discussion. They are free
to decide what form of interaction between each team they wish emphasize (e.g. discussion of contextual/historical material vs. close reading of one or more selected texts on the reading list; contradictory debate, mock trial, dialogue between “masters” and “slaves”, or between pro-slavery and abolitionist positionsmixing forms is also possible). The two presentations together will last no more than 20 minutes for each team and will be followed by a class discussion during which the teacher may intervene (besides introducing the weeks topic and/or providing a recapitulation). Whatever the format, the material studied for the week, whether primary documents (letters, photographs, engravings, etc.) or secondary (essays or lectures by historians, etc.), should remain the main focus. A brief, synthetic presentation of the readings (detailed summary or paraphrase should be avoided) should be included and close readings of significant extracts from primary and secondary sources are strongly encouraged. Evaluation will take into account such criteria as preparation, organization, creativity, originality, dynamism, use of voice, clarity. Each team will be given a single grade. Participation: Students enrolled in this class are expected to study and prepare the material for each week, to attend regularly, and to participate in weekly discussion, whether it is to raise questions, ask for clarification, disagree (or agree) with the instructor or with other students. Grading will not take into account the number of words spoken during the semester (sometimes, less is more), nor the quality of your English, but the regularity and the quality of your engagement with the material and your interaction with the class. Mid-term and final exams: Their goal will be less to assess the breadth of your knowledge of facts, dates or names (although they do matter) than to make sure that you have a good grasp of the various issues addressed in the course, that you can think critically and comparatively in clear, idiomatic English. These exams will be based on the material listed on the course program and discussed in class (i.e. weekly reading assignments, team presentations, extracts of fiction films and documentaries shown in class, complete films).Select Bibliography Frederick Douglass,Narrative of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave(Note: 1845 edition only). Steven Spielberg,Amistad(1997 film) David W. Blight,Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory(Harvard UP, 2002) Natalie Zemon Davis, Slaves on Screen: Film and Historical Vision(Harvard UP, 2000) David Brion Davis,Looking at Slavery from Broader PerspectivesSome useful WEB resourcesSurveys and Overviews A House Divided: America in the Age of Lincoln(Good survey with numerous images. The text is by Eric Foner, one of the leading historians on the period.)Africans in America(This web site is a companion toAfricans in America, a six-hour public television series. “America's journey through slavery is presented in four parts. For each era, you'll find a historical Narrative, a Resource Bank of images, documents, stories, biographies, and commentaries, and a Teacher's Guide.”)
Primary Sources and Essays The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition(An excellent collection of primary documents and essays. See their annotatedOnline Resources) Documenting the American South(A large collection of primary sources on Southern history, literature and culture from the colonial period through the first decades of the 20th century. "North American Slave Narratives" is a collection of more than 250 memoirs, autobiographies, and narratives from individuals who were slaves. These firsthand accounts describe the conditions of slavery and a number of slave escapes to freedom) Harriet A. Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl(First published under a pseudonym in 1861, a landmark slave narrative, written by a woman, which provides a fascinating contrast with Douglass) “I Will Be Heard!”: Abolitionism in America(An exhibition at Cornell UniversityLibrary which covers the period from the 1700s through 1865. Features “rare books, manuscripts, letters, photographs, and other materials from Cornells pre-eminent anti-slavery and Civil War collections.”) American Memory from the Library of Congress(Invaluable collection of primary material in American history: books, pamphlets, ephemera, maps, photographs, movies, etc. Over 90 different collections! See for example theAfrican-American Mosaic orFrom Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, 1824-1909. See alsoThe Frederick Douglass Papers) Uses and counter-uses of stereotypes among African Americans(Usages et contre-usages du stéréotype chez les Afro-américains,Revue électronique bilingue LISA Vol. VII – n°1 | 2009) Common-place: The Interactive Journal of Early American Life(July 2001) (Special issue on American slavery) Audio & Video Watch and listento David Blight speak about “The Underground Railroad” Voices from the Days of Slavery: Former Slaves Tell Their Stories“The almost seven hours of recorded interviews presented here took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine Southern states. Twenty-three interviewees, born between 1823 and the early 1860s, discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, coercion of slaves, their families, and freedom. Several individuals sing songs, many of which were learned during the time of their enslavement.” A complement to other American Memory presentations, most notablyBorn in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938, which contains written versions of more than 2,300 interviews with ex-slaves.” Further Research Beginning Library Research on AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES(Many references and links to encyclopedias, handbooks, bibliographies, statistics, periodical sources, biographies and web links from Stanford University Libraries)