Digital Humanities and Topics In Black History: The Mapping of Black Historical Events From the Beginning of Slavery to Reconstruction

History 100D.002

Spring 2016
Cecil M. Brown
30 Wheeler
Day & Time: 
MW 400-530

This class examines classic themes and topics in African-American History, from the beginning of slavery to Reconstruction. Often literary bias has kept black history hermetically sealed in a vault of printed texts. Now, however, scholars in Digital Humanities have  developed tools that are beginning to liberate historical events from the printed text and set them free in a fresh digital environment. By using these new techniques we are now able to plot the events of black history in space and time.  Recognizing that enslaved black people were not allowed to tell their own story in writing because literacy was illegal, scholars have realized that black enslaved people expressed their culture in the language of music (spirituals), storytelling, dance, and games. By employing tools of the Digital Humanities, which allows access to these nonliterate forms of cultural expression, students will better understand black history.  In this class students will produce their own interactive timelines and maps of black history.  Each student will receive a Google “Cardboard” that allows the student to see historical events in Virtual Reality.  This study will provide the student with insight with which they may write informed essays, an important focus of the class.

Course Books

The Mind of Frederick Douglass by Ealdo Martin UNC Press. ISBN: 978-0807841488 Required
Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are Changing Historical Scholarship by Anne Kelly Knowles and Amy Hillier Esri Press . ISBN: 978-1589480131 Required
Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route by Saidiya Hartman Farrar, Straus and Giroux;. ISBN: 978-0374531157 Required
Phantasmal Media: An Approach to Imagination, Computation, and Expression by D. Fox Harrell MIT Press. ISBN: 978-0262019330 Required
Mother Wit from the Laughing Barrel: Readings in the Interpretation of Afro-American Folklore (Critical Studies on Black Life and Culture) by Alan Dundes University Press of Mississippi. ISBN: 978-0878054787 Required
The Reaper’s Garden: Death and Power in the World of the Atlantic Slavery by Vincent Brown Harvard. ISBN: 978-0674057128 Required
Stagolee Shot Billy by Cecil Brown Harvard . ISBN: 978-0674016262 Required