Syllabus: Slavery and Transatlantic Slave Trade Essay

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Joy * beauty * justice:
“There is a culture that is not specifically African, American, Caribbean, or British, but all of these at once, a black Atlantic culture whose themes and techniques transcend ethnicity and nationality to produce something new and, until now, unremarked.”
--Paul Gilroy
--Romare Bearden, Slave Ship, 1972

Spring 2013/LVA 2446
Professor Elizabeth Swanson Goldberg; x4360; Hollister 325
Office Hour: Tuesday 1:30 – 2:30 pm and by appointment

The term “the Black Atlantic” was coined by Afro-British theorist Paul Gilroy in his book by the same name, and was meant to be a way to talk about the connections in the modern moment among peoples of African origin living in Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Gilroy was also engaged in constructing a polemic arguing for the abiding presence and influence of Africa and African peoples in what has otherwise been constructed as a (white) European and U.S. dominated idea of modernity.

The framework Black Atlantic embeds the transatlantic slave trade—also known as the triangular trade—and therefore encompasses a traumatic history. It also encompasses a history of endurance and triumph—or, to follow the title of our course, a history of joy, beauty, and justice. Both aspects of the historical experiences of black peoples internationally can be read through the cultural expression of literature from the African diaspora, and discerning the connections and divergences among these literatures will be part of our task this semester.

The goals of this course are to:
*introduce a body of literature written by authors from Africa, the Caribbean, African America, and Europe, beginning with the slave narrative, engaging with revisions of the slave narrative form, and sampling some more contemporary literatures.
*investigate connections and divergences in content and form among literatures of the black diaspora
*inquire into our own relationships with race, identity, and the histories and legacies of race and the transatlantic slave trade in a global context
*consider the connections between law and literature in representing influential issues of justice and race
*improve analytical thinking, reading, speaking, and writing skills
*practice rigorous scholarly research skills

A reminder about Intermediate courses in Literary and Visual Arts (LVA):
”Courses in this category focus on frameworks for understanding and appreciating the practice of representation, the creative process, and diverse modes of aesthetic expression. These courses consider individual, historical, cultural, and formal factors in artistic production and make manifest the multiple vantage points from which art can be interpreted.” --Arts and Humanities website

Toni Morrison, Beloved; Tar Baby
Caryl Phillips, Cambridge; The Atlantic Sound
Hillary Jordan, Mudbound

*Wednesday 27 February, 7 p.m., Sorenson Center
Ta Nehisi Coates, Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Day Keynote (REQUIRED)
*African American History Museum visit, TBA
*Film Screening: Trouble the Water, Tuesday 26 March, 7 pm Sorenson Center REQUIRED WORK AND EVALUATION
30% class participation (quizzes + attendance + participation =10% each)
10% Multimedia Context Presentation/Performance
10% Open Forum contributions
25% midterm
25% Research Essay

Multimedia Context Presentation or Performance

This is not a lecture course; rather, it will be conducted as a seminar, with discussion as our most common activity together. My role is to facilitate our collective work in making meaning of the course texts in their contexts and in their relation to the class members.

I define class participation as presence in class (physical and mental); preparedness; engagement; and risk. This course will provide a space for you to test