Seminar in United States History
In recent years, scholars have debated the following question: What was the relationship between the proliferation of slavery and the rise of capitalist economic development in the United States, specifically, and the Atlantic World more broadly? This course will offer students the opportunity to interrogate and answer this question. In this course, students will learn about early American economic history through the lens of slavery, beginning with Native American contact with European colonists, continuing through the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and ending in America’s post-Reconstruction era. Students will be expected to read one book-length manuscript per week and complete an article-length (25 pages) research paper by semester’s end. Readings will include: John Thornton’s Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800, Eric Williams’ Capitalism & Slavery, Edward Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Slavery, Walter Johnson’s The River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom, and Sven Beckert’s Empire of Cotton: A Global History.