University of Mississippi

Winter 2014

2014 Wintersession Course Descriptions

History Department

 

 

HIS 399-1        “Decolonization in Africa”
Dr. Mohammed Bashir Salau
MTWTF 8:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Bishop Room 101
Between the late nineteenth century and the mid-1950s, almost all of Africa was controlled by European governments. Since the mid-1950s, however, the European empires in Africa have crumbled. The main focus of this course is the decline of European political power over Africa, especially since the mid-1950s. We will consider different theories of decolonization and go on to examine the genesis and development of nationalism in northern Africa, western Africa, eastern Africa and southern Africa. Major themes include methods of decolonization, legacies of colonialism, women and nationalism, nationalism and Pan-Africanism, and nationalism and labor movements. Students should note that since this is an intersession course it is primarily designed to enhance their understanding of processes of decolonization in Africa although at the end of the course they should also be able to:

a) Analyze and evaluate the different theories and perspectives on nationalism in Africa.
b) Write insightfully on various aspects of decolonization in Africa
c) Deliver coherent oral presentations on decolonization in Africa

 

HIS 399-2        “Slavery and Memory in American Popular Culture”
MTWTF  1:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Bishop Room 108


This 300-level course will focus on slavery and its legacy, emphasizing its interrelationship with politics, economy, religion, ideologies, culture, family life, migrations, and international relations. One of the core inquiries that frame this course is how everyday Americans gain access to understanding slavery.  Moreover, how do Americans both embrace and deny slavery?  Newspaper articles, television shows, films, songs, and the marketers of food products find substantial audiences who consume problematic images about nineteenth-century black and white citizens.  There is often no space for Americans and those who have access to these American-born images to historicize and contextualize their origins and meanings.  This course hopes to intellectualize the experiences of slavery, race, and memory

Slavery played a profound role in the history of the United States. The wealth created by the unpaid labor of African Americans helped to underwrite the country’s industrial revolution and subsequent economic strength. The wealth generated from slavery and the slave trade created tremendous political power for slaveholders and their representatives. African slaves brought with them their many cultures, languages, and values, which helped to shape America and its unique culture. Enduring a brutally oppressive system, African slaves developed a deep commitment to liberty and became a living testament to the powerful ideal of freedom.  In spite of these historical facts, archetypal images have eclipsed the complex lives of enslaved women who have been reduced to mammies a la Aunt Jemima, Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind typifies plantation mistresses, and genteel and passive plantation masters have come to represent slaveholders who often practiced brutality.  For example, a discussion of why Colonel Rebel, an icon and archetypal image rooted in the nineteenth-century slave past, is vitally important to many Ole Miss supporters demonstrates how needed this discourse is for The University of Mississippi. Thus the course will address historical memory and investigate the problems with both memory and agency with regard to American slavery.

David Blight states, “ . . . history and memory can be conflated or discretely preserved in use and meaning; it is important to establish their differences.”[1] This intersession course is a perfect vehicle to not only examine history and memory but to refine it for our students.  The Winter Intersession presents a workable format for studying this topic because students will have a focused study on the following themes:  race, gender, slavery, memory, and cultural productions of knowledge and familiarity.  By integrating an interdisciplinary format alongside a topical historical approach, students should have a well-rounded understanding of “Slavery and Memory in American Popular Culture.”  We will explore the collective historical memory of American slavery from the antebellum-era to the present primarily through film, primary sources, art, music, and secondary sources. This class is not meant to examine the broader themes of American slavery and race. The longer format of this intersession course allows for more in-depth class discussions and students can learn about an emerging subfield within slavery studies i.e. memory from seminal texts, films, and slave-era iconography – sources that would typically constitute a 50-minute lecture or two during a regular semester.

 


                [1]James O. Horton and Lois Horton, eds.   Slavery and Public History:  The Tough Stuff of American Memory.  (New York and London: The New Press, 2006), 23.