The History of African American Women from Slavery to Freedom

History 103D.003

Fall 2014
Day & Time: 
W 12-2P

This course will examine African-American women’s history from its beginnings through emancipation and Reconstruction.  Classes and coursework explore African origins of black female Americans, their experiences during the middle passage, and throughout the evolution of plantation slavery. It will focus upon the many historical changes that shaped African-American women’s lives and culture thereafter—from the American Revolution to the Civil War. Topics will include the impact of the Haitian and American Revolutions on African-American women’s lives; the abolition of slavery in the post-Revolutionary North and the ways Northern emancipation shaped black women’s experiences in the region, the development of a free black community there and black women’s roles in these new social configurations; the expansion of slavery in the South and its gendered implications, the ways black women influenced antebellum slave culture, and female modes of resistance. Some readings will explore the African American female body under slavery and the use of enslaved African American women in early medical research and experimentation. Students will learn about enslaved women’s reproduction, the role of enslaved women in the healing and medical treatment of others within the community, and black female sexuality. We will also examine African-American women’s freedom struggles during the Civil War and Reconstruction.