Haiti and the Age of Revolutions

History 103E.001

Spring 2018
3104 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
Th 10-12
Class Number: 

The Haitian Revolution has been called the most radical and therefore important assertion of the right to have rights in human history. Though it was intertwined with the American and French Revolutions, it went much further. Between 1791 and 1804, enslaved Africans in the richest colony in the Western hemisphere redefined themselves as persons not property, ended colonial rule, and established a black republic that sought to abolish racial hierarchy. How did this come to be, and why have your teachers taught you so little about it?

This class will examine the relationship between slavery, race, and revolution in the interconnected struggles that broke out in North and South America and the Caribbean in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, what historians call the Age of Revolutions.  We will examine the world that produced these movements, their ambitions, failures, and interconnections, and the legacies of all this in the present day.  A major emphasis of the course will be methodological: we will interrogate the role of power in the production of history and the process of remembering and forgetting the past.  Readings include the work of historians, documents produced by those who lived this history, and fiction, and they draw from U.S., Latin American, and Caribbean history.  Students have the option of writing a thesis prospectus as the final paper.