Clone of Early African History through the Era of the Slave Trade
From the mists of the once-dark continent’s unwritten past Early African History draws out Africans’ distinctive strategies and achievements in culture, politics, and economics. Starting broadly at the dawn of history and continuing in greater detail from the millennium before the Present Era, HIAF 2001 follows the sometimes-surprising ways in which village elders, women, traders, cattle lords, warriors, and ordinary farmers pursued meaningful lives through strategies of community that contrast with the materiality and individualism that most modern Americans take for granted. The last third of the course examines the interplay of tragedy and ambition in a continent increasingly exiling its own people to slavery by Europeans, until the Atlantic slave trade began to wind down after about 1800. (A second semester of modern African history, HIAF 2002, taught in spring semester, follows subsequent events through twentieth-century colonialism and the post-1960 era of independence and impoverishment.)
HIAF 2001 is an introductory lower-division survey. The instructor presents twice-weekly lectures on the major themes of the continent’s early history. Students meet also in discussion sections for reviews of readings, map quizzes, and preparation for written assignments. Requirements include short responses written at the ends of each class, weekly short map quizzes, a pair of two-page papers reacting to assigned readings, and a take-home final exercise. The course belongs to the Afro-American and African Studies curriculum, qualifies for the minor in African Studies, meets the “non-western/non-modern” requirement for the major in History, counts as an adjunct course for Studies in Women and Gender, and qualifies for the College area requirements in “non-western perspectives” and “historical perspective”.
After an opening consideration of modern American culture’s Mistaking Africa (Keim), weekly sets of readings revolve around texts of varying perspectives (Reader, Africa: A Biography of the Continent, and Newman, Peopling of Africa - the latter subject to replacement upon availability of a superior alternative). Other professional essays introduce the distinctive methodologies of doing history without written sources (including the famous Mande oral epic Sundiata), highlight interpretive (“historiographical”) issues, and consider concepts relevant to understanding early Africa.
No formula determines final marks for HIAF 2001. Students are graded according to their “highest consistent performance” in all aspects of the course, including attendance at lectures and participation in discussions, with ample allowance made for the unfamiliarity of the subject matter early in the term; options allow students to devise personal combinations of graded work that allow each to take advantage of particular abilities and to accommodate other academic commitments.
HIAF 2001 presumes no prior knowledge of Africa or experience with the study of history. However, consistent preparation is expected, particularly early in the term, since the subject is new to nearly everyone in the course. Students in all four years of their undergraduate careers and in all colleges of the University complete HIAF 2001 with success. Most find it a challenging and rewarding opportunity to discover the still-neglected story of Africa’s past and its place in world history and to examine the limiting assumptions that modern Americans – themselves included – did not realize that they held.
HIEU 1501 (3)
Introductory Seminar in Pre-1700 European History
"Late Medieval Crime"
Crime is a constant in human civilization, but what constitutes a criminal offense is not. From 1200 to 1500, medieval jurists, judges, kings, theologians, and accused criminals all debated when an offense rose to the level of a crime and the appropriate response it entailed. The Middle Ages is also known as a time of spectacular punishments, from trial by fire to drawing and quartering. As a class, we will explore the nature of crime and its punishments in an attempt to better understand a time often depicted as lawless and cruel.
We will look at the mundane, such as murder and theft, as well as the more extraordinary, as for example putting animals on trial. We will explore crime from the perspective of law, society, religion, and popular representations of criminals like Robin Hood. Apart from cruel and chaotic, the Middle Ages have also been deemed a time of rampant superstition and foolishness: how else to understand putting mice on trial for having eaten grain? This course will deal directly with these preconceptions in exploring how the Middle Ages also gave us the first European articulation of due process for all defendants and the right to a lawyer.
The course is run as weekly discussions that draw upon primary sources and academic literature. Students will learn how to read law codes and court cases as historians as they develop a historian’s skill to analyze primary documents. Students will write periodic primary and secondary source analyses along with standard analytical papers.