Jack Turner Iii
POL S 516
Special topics or themes in the development of American political culture.
2009 Theme: SLAVERY AND FREEDOM IN AMERICAN POLITICAL EXPERIENCE
The close interrelationship between slavery and freedom in American political experience is both obvious and under-analyzed. From the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, slaves largely laid the foundations of the American economy and enabled American commercial prosperity. That prosperity in turn facilitated the freedom of the rest of the population. Slavery's pervasiveness during the colonial era and early republic provided a ubiquitous image of unfreedom against which free individuals defined their identities as citizens. American slavery thus underwrote American freedom not only materially, but also within the political imagination. This seminar scrutinizes both the material and the imaginative interrelationship between slavery and freedom in American political experience. It analyzes the ways in which distinctively American understandings of freedom are historically rooted in the experience of slavery. It also asks how we might emancipate American understandings of freedom from conceptual limitations imposed by this historical trajectory. Readings by Thomas Jefferson, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass, Jane Addams, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Edmund Morgan, and Orlando Patterson.
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