Fall 2010 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Wickberg, Dan
Discipline and Number
HUHI 6301 Section 001
R Time 10:00 AM - 12:45 PM
Course Title
Slavery & Freedom in Mod Thought

Description of Course:

This is a graduate-level course examining the centrality of modern ideas about slavery and freedom to reconstructions of notions of personhood, moral order, and political and social thought in European and American cultures of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. For over two thousand years the notion that slavery represented a moral evil was a marginal and at times non-existent idea in Western thought; the dominant strains in classical and Christian philosophy and ethics affirmed the existence of slavery as an ordinary and excepted feature of the moral order. One of the great questions in modern historiography is how such a consensus was reversed, how slavery came under a sustained criticism that has succeeded in creating a new consensus on slavery as a moral evil. The critical reinterpretation of slavery was both rooted in new conceptions of what freedom meant, and had consequences for reshaping notions of liberty. We will read a variety of recent secondary literature and the writings of a variety of eighteenth and nineteenth-century thinkers who engaged this problem from a variety of intellectual stances: Enlightenment rationalism, evangelical Christianity, romanticism, racialism, abolitionism, pro-slavery theory,free labor ideology, and modern social science.

Required Texts:

Possible texts include:
David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution
Orlando Patterson, Freedom in the Making of Western Culture
Christopher Leslie Brown, Moral Capital: Foundations of British Abolitionism
Isaiah Berlin, Liberty
Eric Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men
Edmund Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom
Susan Buck-Morss, Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History
Engerman, Drescher and Paquette, eds., Slavery (Oxford Reader)
Seymour Drescher, Abolition: A History of Slavery and Antislavery
David Waldstreicher, Slavery’s Constitution
Drew Gilpin Faust, ed., The Ideology of Slavery: Proslavery Thought in the Antebellum South

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

Attendance, participation in class discussion, one oral presentation, and a term paper of 15-20 pages.

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