Instructor: Andrew Pope
Meeting time: Wednesday, 12:00 - 2:45
The course examines how people struggled to achieve the full-promise of freedom throughout American history. The organizing theme of the course is the cycle of progress and retrenchment, of revolutions and counter-revolutions, that has come to define American life. The course begins with enslaved people’s struggles for freedom and the white planters who created a form of representative government to maintain the institution. From there, we proceed chronologically through American history to the present, exploring changing notions of community, strategies used to gain freedom, and the range of violent responses that groups seeking liberation encountered. Our readings will include a play by Suzan Lori-Parks, manifestos by white power advocates, George Schulyer’s novel Black No More, literary criticism by Toni Morrison, political speeches, oral history interviews with formerly enslaved people and migrant workers, among many other historical and literary sources. While race has been an important element to every debate about political representation in American history, most debates represented overlapping interests of race, gender, class, and even sexuality. As such, we will take up each issue throughout the semester. In a presidential election cycle dominated by white rage, we will study how it has shaped American history in the past and its lasting consequences in the present.