Fall 2004 History 84101. Beyond Slavery: Explorations in the Problem of Freedom in the Americas


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Fall 2004
History 84101.

Beyond Slavery:

Explorations in the Problem of Freedom in the Americas

Mondays 5—7:50

JRL 503

Tom Holt Office Hours: Mon 2-3:30,

702-8389 and by appointment

tholt@uchicago.edu SS213
This course will explore the nature and problematic of “freedom” in modern social life through a comparative examination of slavery emancipation in the Atlantic world. Among the topics to be addressed are the conceptualization of free labor in the early 19th century, the design and execution of the emancipation process, the tension between political and economic freedom, and the influence of state formation on citizenship and self-determination.


All members of the class are required to attend all classes, participate actively in class and Chalk website discussions, and write a short review (1000 words) of one of the required readings (due Oct. 15th). Each student is expected to lead two class discussions, one on the common readings and one on a supporting primary document. The second writing assignment (approx. 500 words, due Dec. 6th) will consist, in the case of seminar students, of a prospectus for the paper they will write in Winter Quarter and, for colloquium students, an essay addressing either the historical issues raised by one of the class sessions or a review essay based on the equivalent of three book-length texts.


Available for purchased in Seminary Coop and on Regenstein Reserve:

Frederick Cooper, Thomas C. Holt, and Rebecca Scott, Beyond Slavery (UNC, 2000)

Laurent Dubois, A Colony of Citizens (UNC, 2004)

Eric Foner, The Story of Freedom (Norton, 1998)

Steven Hahn, A Nation Under Our Feet (Harvard, 2003)

Thomas C. Holt, The Problem of Freedom (Hopkins, 1992)

Orlando Patterson, Freedom in the Making of Western Culture (Basic Books, 1991)

Theodore Rosengarten, All God’s Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw (Chicago, 1974)

Julie Saville, The Work of Reconstruction (Cambridge, 1994)

Amy Stanley, From Bondage to Contract (Cambridge, 1998)

Available Only in Regenstein:

Elsa Barkley Brown, “To Catch the Vision of Freedom: Reconstructing Southern Black Women’s Political History, 1865-1880,” in Ann D. Gordon, et.al., eds., African Americn Women and the Vote, 1837-1965 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1997), 66, 68-87. [E-reserve]

David B. Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution [available as E-book]

Laura Edwards, Gendered Strife and Confusion

Eugene Genovese, Roll Jordan Roll

________, From Rebellion to Revolution: Afro-American Slave Revolts

Mae Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America

Anthony Parent, Jr., Foul Means: The Formation of a Slave Society in Virginia

Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death

Leslie A. Schwalm, A Hard Fight For We

Schedule of Classes
1st week

Sept. 27th—What’s At Stake?

Readings (available on web site and to be distributed in class):

“The petition of Edisto freedmen, 1865.”

Patterson, Freedom, pp. 1-5.

Holt, The Problem of Freedom, pp. xvii-xxv.

Foner, Story of Freedom, pp. xiii—xxii.
2nd week

Oct 4—What ‘s At Stake?, cont’d

Readings: Cooper, et.al., “Introduction,” in Beyond Slavery, pp. 1—32.

Patterson, Freedom, pp. 9-19, 47-105.

Holt, The Problem of Freedom, pp. 2-79.
Supplementary: Foner, Story of Freedom, chaps. 1 and 2.
3rd week

Oct 11—Is Freedom Slavery’s Janus-Face?

Readings: Patterson, Slavery and Social Death, pp. 33-65, 94-101, 209-296.

Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll, pp. 3-112.

Parent, Foul Means, chap. 2.
Supplementary: Frank Tannenbaum, Slave and Citizen.
4th week

Oct 18—Slavery and Freedom in the Age of Revolution

Readings: Dubois, A Colony of Citizens, tba

Davis, The Problem of Slavery, chaps. 5 and 9.

Supplementary: Genovese, Rebellion or Revolution.

Laurent Dubois, Avengers of the New World.

5th week

Oct 25—The Political Economy of Freedom

Readings: Stanley, From Bondage to Contract, chaps. 1-2.

Holt, The Problem of Freedom, pp. 80-176.

6th week

Nov. 1—The Politics of Freedom

Readings: Hahn, A Nation Under Our Feet, pp. 163-313.

Scott, “Fault Lines, Color Lines, and Party Lines,” in Beyond Slavery, 61--106

Holt, The Problem of Freedom, pp. 179-309.

Supplementary: Ada Ferrer, Insurgent Cuba.
7th week

Nov. 8—Historicizing Social Relations: Gender, Kinship, and Family

Readings: Schwalm, A Hard Fight For We, chaps. 1, 2 and 6.

Edwards, Gender, Strife, and Reconstruction, chaps. 1 and 4.

Stanley, From Bondage to Contract, chap. 5.

Holt, “The Essence of the Contract,” in Beyond Freedom, 33—59.

8th week

Nov. 15—The Everyday of Freedom

Readings: Saville, The Work of Reconstruction (All)

Brown, “To Catch the Vision of Freedom.”

9th week

Nov. 22—Freedom as Lived Experience

Readings: Rosengarten, All God’s Dangers, Parts 1 and 2)
10th week

Nov. 29—Freedom and Citizenship in a Postcolonial World Order

Readings: Cooper, “Conditions Analogous to Slavery,” in Beyond Freedom, 107-151; and “Afterword,” 151--156.

Ngai, Impossible Subjects, pp. 1-14, 227-270.

Final Papers due Dec 6th


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