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Gender and Slavery in the Atlantic World
AFAM 285
Fall 2023
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: FGSS 285

For most of the 20th century, historians of slavery in the Atlantic world overlooked the critical role of gender in shaping the marketplace, culture, and experience of the institution. Slaveholding and its attendant violence were presumed to be the domain of men. With a tragically limited archive, the popularity of slave narratives such as Frederick Douglass's "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave" (1845) reveal how the voices and perspectives of men have dominated our understanding of the enslaved experience. Since the 1980s, the work of black feminist historians such as Deborah Gray White's, "Ar'n't I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South" (1985) have unpacked the profoundly gendered nature of slavery in colonial America, the United States, and the Caribbean. This course embarks on an exploration of this important intervention. We will engage primary sources to illuminate the voices of enslaved women and debunk some of the historical myths of slavery and slaveholding. We will also visit classic and fresh secondary literature to understand the evolution of the field. Major themes include but are not limited to the Middle Passage experience, gendered violence, fertility, reproduction and motherhood, the Southern Belle archetype and slaveholding mistresses, notions of beauty and purity in black and white, and fugitivity.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS AFAM
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Student Option
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (AFAM-MN)(AFAM)(HRAD-MN)
Past Enrollment Probability: 50% - 74%

Last Updated on JUN-14-2024
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