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The Zamani Reader (TZR)

A History Blog from a History Student

“A Presumptive Evidence?” An Introduction to the Historiography of African Provenance Labels in the Early Modern Era

Images: The engraving on the left supposedly depicts a “Coromantyn” person living in the Dutch colony of Suriname in the late-eighteenth century. The picture on the right supposedly depicts a “Congo” person living in South Carolina in the mid-nineteenth century. Both images show an interest in labeling African provenance in the early-modern era.

Epigraphs: “There is a vast difference in the…dispositions of the Negroes, according to the coasts they come from.” – B. Moreton, West India Customs and Manners, 1793[1]

“…good subjects are frequently found in cargoes of the worst reputation, and bad ones in those of the best. The country, therefore, forms only a presumptive evidence of quality, which may mislead…”- Anonymous, Practical Rules for the Management and Medical Treatment of Negro Slaves, 1803[2]

Introduction: Mandingo. Jollof. Ballum. Kissy. Temne. Coromantee. Chamba. Asante. Papaw. Nago. Dome. Igbo. Moco. Angola. Mungola. Kongo. For scholars who work on both slavery in the Americas and the Black Diaspora in what historians often define as the early-modern era (1490s-1830s), at least some of these words will be familiar. They are words that appear to a varying degree in the documentary record of the Atlantic colonies, from English-speaking New York to Dutch-speaking Suriname and Portuguese-speaking Brazil. More precisely, historians call these terms ethnic, national, or provenance labels. They are words that were used by both blacks and whites to differentiate between Africans in the Americas. As contemporary authors indicated, these labels were associated in the minds of early-modern writers with what we generally call ethnicities or nationalities, but what contemporaries more often referred to as “countries,” “nations,” and sometimes even “races.” Even more important, these labels were associated with provenance: areas of the African coast out of which slaves embarked on the Middle Passage. For example, Mandingo was used for people from Senegambia on the Upper Guinea Coast; Ibo for those from the Bight of Biafra on the Lower Guinea Coast; and Congo for those from Congo-Angola in West-Central Africa.[1]

Provenance labels are common in the documentary record of the early-modern period. As the historian Michael Mullin has written, “ordinary people identified Africans as members of particular societies more carefully than scholars have given them credit for doing.” From the engravings that were featured in travel narratives like that of John Gabriel Stedman in 1796, to the black-and-white photographs that were taken by J.T. Zealy in 1850, the evidence demonstrates that many people in the early-modern period had a desire to see beyond monolithic categories like “African,” “black,” or “negro.” Instead, they expressed an interest in representing difference among Africans in both visual and literary forms. However, as the two epigraphs featured above show, these same contemporaries often disagreed about how reliable provenance labels really were for determining the origin, culture, or behavior of an African person who was brought into American slavery.[2] Continue reading ““A Presumptive Evidence?” An Introduction to the Historiography of African Provenance Labels in the Early Modern Era”

Review of Kariann Akemi Yokota’s Unbecoming British

KARIANN AKEMI YOKOTA. Unbecoming British: How Revolutionary America Became a Postcolonial Nation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp. xii, 368. $36.95. Hardcover. ISBN: 0190217871.

In Unbecoming British, historian Kariann Akemi Yokota takes as her subject the historical process of American identity formation across the revolutionary and new national periods, or what she calls “America’s postcolonial period.” Specifically, she traces the process through which English colonists created an “American national character” out of their colonial inheritances. She does this through material, visual, and cultural history rather than political history. As Yokota observes, the transition of English subjects to American citizens was rife with “tensions and contradictions” that historians can study through both “lives of people engaged in missionary, scientific, and commercial pursuits” and “objects as varied as maps, imported and domestic artworks, and botanical prints.” Foremost among these tensions is the idea that, while elite American nationalists embraced aspects of their new identity such as their country’s raw materials, the superiority of whiteness, an increasingly democratic political structure, and a reflex for self-defensive intellectual arguments, “they could not relinquish their cultural attachments to the refined objects and courtly trappings of the British monarchy.” In short, while the political process of “unbecoming British” might have culminated with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the cultural process was just beginning.[1] Continue reading “Review of Kariann Akemi Yokota’s Unbecoming British”

Historical Fictions: Readings on the Origins and Relevance of the First Great Awakening

SUSAN JUSTER. Disorderly Women: Sexual Politics and Evangelicalism in Revolutionary New England. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996. Pp. xi, 224. $24.95. Paperback. ISBN: 0801483883.

FRANK LAMBERT. “The First Great Awakening: Whose Interpretive Fiction?” The New England Quarterly 68 (1995): 650-659.

JON BUTLER. “Enthusiasm Described and Decried: The Great Awakening as Interpretive Fiction.” The Journal of American History 69 (1982): 305-325.

The readings for this week discuss the origins and relevance of the “First Great Awakening.” This is a term used to describe a series of religious revivals that occurred to a varying degree across the British colonies of mainland North America in the mid-eighteenth century, mostly between the 1730s and 1750s. In “Enthusiasm Described and Decried,” Jon Butler argues scholars should “abandon the term” because it is both an “interpretative fiction” and anachronism that “distorts the character of eighteenth-century American religious life and misinterprets its relationship to prerevolutionary American society and politics.” Contemporaries, as he states, were not the ones who used this label. Rather, the now-popular term of “Great Awakening” was invented by a nineteenth-century historian named Joseph Tracy. He projected the religious context of his own age—what is now referred to as the “Second Great Awakening” of the early national period—back onto the colonial era. In doing so, he “homogenized” a series of local, scattered, erratic, heterogenous, “politically benign,” and largely unrelated revivals; he re-cast them as a great, general, and uniform phenomenon. As Butler laments, a diverse lineage of scholars has followed Tracy’s lead since “the last half of the nineteenth century,” thereby furthering all sorts of gross mischaracterizations. Foremost among the distortions is a “fiction” that “the Great Awakening” undermined traditional structures of authority and paved the way for the democratic ideals of the American Revolution. [1] Continue reading “Historical Fictions: Readings on the Origins and Relevance of the First Great Awakening”

Call for Papers, Second Annual UC Davis Graduate History Conference

Dear readers, exciting news! The organizers for the Annual UC Davis Graduate History Conference have released this year’s call for papers (or CFP). I have attached that CFP to this post for your perusal. Last year, under the direction of the program’s two tireless organizers, Lawrence Abrams and Kaleb Knoblauch, the UC Davis History Department was able to host their inaugural graduate student conference, called “Historians Without Borders, History Without Limits.” The conference featured participants from across the greater California area, as well as a few people who came from places that were much more distant, like Rutgers, in New Jersey, and Wayne State, in Michigan. This year, the History Department hopes to improve upon last year’s success. This second installment of the graduate conference will keep the same broad and inclusive theme as the first, with its emphasis on interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary work, while adding a “special focus on the integration of digital humanities.” Also, this year’s conference will include a specific day for the presentation of work by undergraduates. That being said, please help us disseminate this CFP to any and all interested scholars. As the document states, the deadline for submissions is Friday, December 30, and the conference will take place over the weekend of May 19-21, 2017. If you are a graduate history student, I hope that you will consider submitting your research, whether it is a polished piece or a work in progress.

Second UCD History Grade Conference — Call for Papers

Sources of Power: Reflections from Readings on Race, Sex, and Power in Early America

CLARE A. LYONS. Sex Among the Rabble: An Intimate History of Gender and Power in the Age of Revolution, Philadelphia, 1730-1830. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006. Pp. x, 432. $32.50. Paperback. ISBN: 978-0-8078-5675-8.

How does the historian of early America study something that was rarely meant to be recorded? The readings for this week address that question in the context of the entangled relationship between social power and sexual practice. Put another way, this week’s scholars have either taken specific early American societies—like Massachusetts, Philadelphia, North Carolina, or New Orleans—as their case studies, or they have surveyed sexual coercion across all the original thirteen colonies. Regardless, each of them have looked at the intersection of sex and power. Yet, as Jennifer M. Spear acknowledges in her contribution Race, Sex, and Social Order in Early New Orleans, that task has not been easy one. Indeed, Spear seems to speak for each of this week’s authors when she laments, “Writing about sex in early America is difficult.” Historians of sexuality have, to phrase it mildly, needed to get creative with their sources and methods. Notwithstanding these difficulties, studying sexuality has been a fruitful endeavor. Since, as Sharon Block writes, “sexual power was inextricable from social power,” studies of sexuality have revealed the extent to which unequal power dynamics are coded by practices characterized as either deviant or normative.[1] Continue reading “Sources of Power: Reflections from Readings on Race, Sex, and Power in Early America”

Review of James Sweet’s Domingos Alvares

JAMES H. SWEET. Domingos Álvares, African Healing, and the Intellectual History of the Atlantic World. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2011. Pp. xvii, 320. $30.00. Paperback. ISBN: 978-1-4696-0975-1.

The subject of James Sweet’s biography and self-described intellectual and “Black Atlantic” history, Domingos Álvares, was an African healer and diviner. He came from Naogon, a village of the Mahi confederacy in the West African region of Agonli Cové. This Gbe-speaking area was on the interior of the so-called “Slave Coast” in the early-eighteenth century and it is now part of central Benin. Álvares was probably born around 1710 to parents who were priests—or vodunon—of the Sakpata, a group of deities mainly associated with smallpox. When the expanding kingdom of Dahomey conquered Agonli Cové, its ruler, Agaja, sold these priests into the Middle Passage out of a fear for their ritual abilities. Such was the inciting incident in an Atlantic odyssey that took Álvares to two additional continents over the course of two decades.[1]

Álvares was an Atlantic globetrotter. Around 1730, he was shipped from the port of Jakin to Goiana in Pernambuco, northeastern Brazil, where he became a slave on a sugar plantation. Afterward, he was taken south, first to Recife and then to the streets of Rio de Janeiro, where he purchased his freedom and became a renowned healer with a congregation and disciples. Nonetheless, in 1742, he was accused of being a fetisher and sent to Lisbon, Portugal, to stand trial before the Inquisition Court. After imprisonment, torture, interrogation, and banishment in Castro Marim, a hamlet in the Algarve of southern Portugal, Álvares appeared before the court once again in 1747. Finally, he disappeared from the historical record sometime around 1749 after being ordered to Bragança in northern Portugal, the location of his second exile.[2]

In Domingos Álvares, Sweet has reconstructed this biography from many primary sources. He used oral traditions, censuses, slave trade database statistics, ethnographies, newspapers, maps, genealogies, colonial legal documents, parish records, and travel accounts. When these materials were rare, he extrapolated from secondary literature on pre-colonial Africa, the slave trade, anthropology, historical linguistics, and more. Regardless, his story would not have been possible without Inquisition transcripts. Foremost among these was a more than 600-page dossier in the Portuguese national archives, originally produced by the Holy Office during Álvares’ trials. This case file contains copies of Álvares’ confessions, some Fon-Gbe terms that suggest his African origins, and depositions from nearly four-dozen eyewitnesses.[3]

For Sweet, his Domingos Álvares is a model for overcoming one of Atlantic histories shortcomings—its inability to “accommodate African historical perspectives” on their own terms. Here he takes aim at the work of scholars like Ira Berlin, Linda Heywood, and John Thornton, who have defined Africans in the Atlantic World by the degree to which they were in dialogue with “European ideas and institutions.” These scholars are often uninterested in challenging “the boundaries of European empire and colonialism.” Instead, they seek to trace the Americanization of Africans, and so they emphasize when Africans speak European languages, read Enlightenment texts, dress in European clothes, or appeal to European institutions like the Catholic church or imperial Crown. In theory, Sweet embraces the premise of the “Atlantic creole,” to borrow the phrase of Berlin, as an individual whose power derives from their ability to adapt and cross cultural boundaries. However, Sweet demands that Africa be a more central component of this creolized identity.[4]

While Sweet sees Domingos Álvares as a model for critiquing a Eurocentric approach to Atlantic history, he also sees Álvares’ life as an embodied critique of European colonial ideologies in his own time. “Wherever he traveled,” writes Sweet, “Domingos offered this political discourse of health and healing as an alternative to imperial discourses.” Instead of his African culture being stripped by the social alienation of war and enslavement—as many scholars have argued—Álvares retained and used his native culture throughout his journey. Both his freedom and healing “shifted over time,” defying imperial categories in the process. For example, his healing crossed boundaries by appealing to slaves and freed people, reinforced and threatened colonial legitimacies, and wavered between the criminal and the blessed. Ultimately, the story climaxes in a confrontation between Álvares and his inquisitor in which Álvares is punished for daring to put “African divination and spirit possession on the same therapeutic plane as the rituals of the Catholic church.[5]

In sum, Domingos Álvares is the biography of an African intellectual who challenged European epistemologies, written by an historian who wants to challenge those epistemologies in the scholarship today. As such, Sweet is likely to be critiqued by empiricists for bending his evidence toward his interpretation, especially in moments where he reads Álvares’ intentions into the omissions of the Inquisition records, or when he takes what might be coerced testimony as honest recollection. Others will be uncomfortable when Sweet makes analytical leaps from African oral traditions that are two hundred years removed, or when he reduces Álvares to the level of an ambiguous yet politicized symbol, calling him “an exemplar of modernity but also its fiercest opponent.” But despite these predictable critiques, Sweet has set a bold and remarkable new standard for integrating Africa into the Atlantic. Many will be excited to see how this standard is taken forward, especially in those cases where there is no hefty inquisition file to draw upon.[6]

Notes:

[1] James H. Sweet, Domingos Álvares, African Healing, and the Intellectual History of the Atlantic World (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2011), 5, 7, 14-15, 20, 24, 26.

[2] Ibid. 26, 129.

[3] Ibid. 2-4, 7.

[4] Ibid. 2, 4-5, 235 n4.

[5] Ibid. 6, 105, 177.

[6] Ibid. 233.

Review of Kristen Block’s Ordinary Lives in the Early Caribbean

KRISTEN BLOCK. Ordinary Lives in the Early Caribbean: Religion, Colonial Competition, and the Politics of Profit. Early American Places. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2012. Pp. xiv, 312. $29.95. Paperback. ISBN: 978-0-8203-3868-2.

As Atlantic History has risen to popularity, historians like Lara Putnam and Rebecca Scott have posed a critical question. They have asked whether microhistory can help practitioners overcome some of the field’s most-common limitations, namely its tendency to silence voices of everyday people while emphasizing “Big Picture” changes across enormous geographic scopes. Kristen Block’s latest work, Ordinary Lives in the Early Caribbean, is an attempt to put that question into practice. Described as a “social microhistory,” Ordinary Lives takes as its subject religious change in the Caribbean over the long seventeenth-century. This timing allows Block to study the region as it transitioned from a primarily Catholic, Spanish world into an Anglo, Protestant world following Oliver Cromwell’s so-called Western Design.[1]

One characteristic of Atlantic History is that authors sample a portion of the Atlantic as a case study for the whole. This is true of Ordinary Lives, which takes Cartagena, Jamaica, Hispaniola, and Barbados for its Caribbean. Block divides her study into four parts that examine these locations in chronological order. Each revolves around the biographies of “everyday” people—the “ordinary lives” referenced in the title. These include a runaway slave from Cartagena, Colombia, named Isabel Criolla; a French-Calvinist servant to the Spanish governor of Jamaica named Nicolas Burundel; an English sailor to Hispaniola named Henry Whistler; and two enslaved people on a Quaker plantation in Barbados named Yaft and Nell. Of course, Block features many other figures—including more-standard characters like Sir Francis Drake and Bartolomé de las Casas—but they do not constitute the organizing principle of the text.[2]

Ordinary Lives has two purposes. First, Block wants “to portray with sympathy the stories of groups exploited and silenced by the expansion of early modern Atlantic colonialism and capitalism.” This largely determines the content and narrative of Ordinary Lives, which follows works like Daniel Richter’s Facing East from Indian Country and Natalie Zemon Davis’s The Return of Martin Guerre in utilizing the “the essential craft of the imagination” to re-construct the “hidden transcripts” of silenced actors. Such a thesis leads Block to test the boundaries of the profession to an increasing degree with each part. While Criolla’s struggle against slavery generated ample records in the Inquisition Courts, for instance, almost nothing survives about other people, like Yaft and Nell. In this way, Block uses microhistory to “read against the grain.”[3]

As her second purpose, Block argues that “the Caribbean was a central focus for the early modern shift from religion as a primary basis for political and social identity to that” of what we call race today. This goal determines the arc of Ordinary Lives. In short, as northern European powers achieved dominance, they introduced changes rooted in the Protestant Reformation. These included “toleration for international trade and competitive investment in slave-produced goods,” which ushered the Caribbean on a descent toward irreligion, “cynicism, hostility, and cruelty.” By supplanting Spanish Catholicism, newcomers closed traditional avenues for upward social mobility, hardened race, and created a characteristically brutal West Indian plantation regime. In this sense, Block’s work aligns with that of scholars like Jane Landers and María Elena Díaz, who have argued the Catholic Spanish colonies offered more “pathways to shape social relations” than their Protestant counterparts.[4]

With Ordinary Lives, Block traces the panoramic history of religious change in the Caribbean through intimate microhistories. Many will find this approach admirable; however, tensions between Block’s two purposes often create the impression that the reader has two different books. One rescues the voices of commoners from obscurity—revealing the creative ways they negotiated identities in the context of hegemonic structures like religion—and the other domesticates their voices in the service of countering the legacy of the Black Legend. At its weakest points, the goal of the second book overshadows that of the first, and characters whom we know little about—like Yaff and Nell—become tools for explaining “the solidification of racial boundaries.” However, both despite and because of these moments, Block’s Ordinary Lives has much to teach students of Atlantic history about the benefits and the limitations of micro-historical methodologies.[5]

Notes: 

[1] Lara Putnam, “The Study the Fragments/While: Microhistory and the Atlantic World, Journal of Social History, Vol. 39, No. 3 (Spring, 2006): 615-630; Rebecca J. Scott, “Small-Scale Dynamics of Large Scale Processes, The American Historical Review, Vol. 105, No. 2 (April, 2000): 472-479; Kristen Block, Ordinary Lives in the Early Caribbean: Religion, Colonial Competition, and the Politics of Profit (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2012), 3-5, 16.

[2] Ibid. 230.

[3] Ibid. 234, 6.

[4] Ibid. 16, 238.

[5] Ibid. 3, 5, 10, 15, 89, 212.

What’s the Point of a Middle Ground? Reflections from Two Works by James Merrell and Sophie White

SOPHIE WHITE. Wild Frenchmen and Frenchified Indians: Material Culture and Race in Colonial Louisiana. Early American Studies. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012. Pp. x, 355. $24.95. Paperback. ISBN: 978-0-8122-4437-3.

JAMES H. MERRELL. “The Indians’ New World: The Catawba Experience.” The William and Mary Quarterly 41, 4 (October, 1984): 537-565.

A quarter century has passed since the historian of Early America, Richard White, articulated the concept of the “middle ground” as a geographic, cultural, and temporal space of mutual accommodation between Native American and European peoples on the North American continent. In first introducing this idea through a case study of the pays d’en haut or Great Lakes region, White described it thus: “The Middle Ground is the place in between: in between cultures, peoples, and in between empires and the nonstate world of villages. It is a place where many of the North American subjects and allies of empire lived. It is the area between the historical foreground of European invasion and occupation and the background of Indian defeat and retreat.” While neither of the two works under review here use the phrase “middle ground,” both of them are attempts at tackling the same underlying question of mutual accommodation and the spaces in-between. Both of them use specific case studies—the Catawba of the Carolina piedmont and the Illinois of French colonial Louisiana—for exploring the ways in which native peoples adapted to European colonization and, conversely, the ways in which those adaptations were received by colonizers.[1] Continue reading “What’s the Point of a Middle Ground? Reflections from Two Works by James Merrell and Sophie White”

Review of Death of a Notary by Donna Merwick

DONNA MERWICK. Death of a Notary: Conquest and Change in Colonial New York. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999. Pp. xvi, 304. $24.95. Paperback. ISBN: 0801487889.

What happens to a people when they are conquered by a foreign imperial power? How are their everyday lives and the ways in which they are remembered changed by the circumstances of their conquest? These questions lay at the heart of Donna Merwick’s engaging microhistory, Death of a Notary. Merwick’s text is a narrative that uses the life of a seventeenth-century Dutch notary—named Adriaen Janse van Ilpenda, or simply “Janse”—as a metaphor for exploring the effects of imperial conquest generally, and the transition of power from the Dutch to the English in colonial New York specifically. Overall, Merwick’s work is a testament to the saying that a writer’s choice of subject goes a long way toward dictating the success of their project. As a low-level civil servant who spent his career documenting the ambitions and grievances of a largely forgotten community during some of its most turbulent years, Janse is a historian’s treasure. His biography has the potential to teach us volumes about the long- and short-term effects of imperial conquest. Continue reading “Review of Death of a Notary by Donna Merwick”

Presentations from “HIST 017: History of the United States to 1877” — The American Revolution Within (1775-1783)

Dear readers, today I am following up on my lecture series from HIST 017, “History of the United States to 1877,” with a new PowerPoint presentation. This presentation is called “The American Revolution Within (1775-1785).” It discusses the internal struggles and transformations of the United States at the very moment of its creation. It was originally presented to my class on Thursday, June 23, 2016. As always, I recognize that my lectures are far from perfect and they have several problems. Nonetheless, I hope you will enjoy them and feel welcome to send me any recommendations you may have.

All of the PowerPoint presentations for HIST 017, including this one, were developed from content in the following textbook: Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty!: An American History, Vol. 1, Seagull 4th edition (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2014). I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Foner for his wonderful work as an historian. Give Me Liberty! is truly an exceptional educational resource and I recommend its use in any History setting, be it a college classroom or otherwise. I would also like to extend my gratitude to everyone at Solano Community College and UC Davis, two institutions that continue to support both my teaching endeavors and my professional education.

Thanks, and enjoy!

The American Revolution Within (1775-1785) — HIST 017 (6-23-16)

Presentations from “HIST 017: History of the United States to 1877” — The American Revolution (1765-1783)

Dear readers, as many of you know, after six years of studying History in college, I officially began my teaching career last fall, 2015, by teaching “HIST 037: Women in American History” at Solano Community College. I am following up on that course this summer by teaching “HIST 017: History of the United States to 1877” at the Vacaville satellite campus of SCC. Today I would like to post the first lecture that I created for that course to The Zamani Reader. As always, I recognize that my lectures are far from perfect and that they have several problems. Nonetheless, I hope that you will enjoy them and feel welcome to send me any recommendations that you may have. This particular lecture is on the lead up to, and the history of, the American Revolution (1765-1783). It was originally delivered to my class on Tuesday, June 21, 2016.

All of the PowerPoint presentations for HIST 017, including this one, were developed from content in the following textbook: Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty!: An American History, Vol. 1, Seagull 4th edition (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2014). I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Foner for his wonderful work as a historian. Give Me Liberty! is truly an exceptional educational resource and I recommend its use in any History classroom, be it a college course or otherwise. I would also like to extend my gratitude to everyone at SCC, who has supported me in my teaching experience thus far. Thanks, and enjoy!

The American Revolution (1765-1783) — HIST 017 (June 21, 2016)

Presentations from “HIST 037: Women in American History” — African Women and Slavery in the Colonial Era

Dear readers, I am continuing my lecture series with a new presentation called “African Women and Slavery in the Colonial Era.” I have spent the last three weeks working on this presentation, and I am very satisfied with the result. The PowerPoint is broken into three separate parts called 1) Representations, 2) Historical Concepts, and 3) Primary Sources. The first section focuses on displaying imagery of African women in the colonial era, with the goal of juxtaposing racist images with honest portrayals; the second section sets forth some very basic concepts in order to help us understand the historical context of slavery, black women, and the colonial era; and the third section introduces the audience to a few of the types of primary sources that historians use to further explore these experiences.

This presentation was originally created for my HIST 037 class, “Women in American History.” I taught this class last Fall at Solano Community College. More specifically, this presentation was given to my class on Monday, August 31, 2015. Please note that all of the PowerPoint presentations for HIST 037, including this one, were developed from content in the following textbook: Ellen Carol DuBois and Lynn Dumenil,Through Women’s Eyes: An American History with Documents. Boston and New York: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2012. I would like to extend my gratitude to these two authors for their extraordinary work.Through Women’s Eyes is a wonderful educational resource. Second, I would like to extend my gratitude to everyone at SCC who encouraged the development of this course.

Thanks, and enjoy!

African Women and Slavery in the Colonial Era Presentation (8-31-15)

Reflections from a PhD History Student (Part Two) — Why is Graduate School so Hard, Especially in the First Year?

Well, I have officially finished my first year of the PhD History program at UC Davis. To be more precise, I finished my first year a couple of months ago, when I turned in the last of my final exams for Spring Quarter around the second week of June. I meant to write these reflections immediately after finishing the school year, but then I got caught up with other obligations and I was, frankly, pretty tired of writing. I took a job right after school ended, teaching another course at Solano Community College. The new dean of the college called me up and offered me the opportunity to teach a summer course before Davis had ended. Because Davis is on the quarter system, and SCC is on the semester system, that summer class began only one week after my graduate classes finished. In fact, I was planning the summer course at SCC before I had finished my classes at Davis.

Continue reading “Reflections from a PhD History Student (Part Two) — Why is Graduate School so Hard, Especially in the First Year?”

Presentations from “HIST 037: Women in American History” — European American Women in the Colonial Era

Dear readers, as many of you know from my post last week, this summer I have decided to share some of the PowerPoint lectures that I created for the first class I ever taught at Solano Community College (SCC). This class was called “HIST 037: Women in American History,” and I taught it during the Fall of 2015. The following presentation is part of the colonial lecture series. It is about the experiences of European or European-American  women in the colonial era. The presentation focuses mostly on European women in the area that will become the thirteen American colonies on the Atlantic seaboard. It was presented to my HIST 037 class on Wednesday, September 4, 2015.

All of the PowerPoint presentations for HIST 037, including this one, were developed from content in the following textbook: Ellen Carol DuBois and Lynn Dumenil,Through Women’s Eyes: An American History with Documents. Boston and New York: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2012. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to these two authors for their extraordinary work. Through Women’s Eyes is, indeed, a wonderful educational resource. Second, I would like to extend my gratitude to Rachel Purdie, another adjunct History instructor at SCC who introduced me to this textbook. Thanks, and enjoy!

European Colonial Women Presentation — HIST 37 (9-4-15)

Presentations from “HIST 037: Women in American History” — Native American Women in the Colonial Era

Dear readers, this summer I have decided to share some of the PowerPoint lectures that I created for the first class I ever taught at Solano Community College (SCC). This class was called “HIST 037: Women in American History,” and I taught it during the Fall of 2015. Of course, these lectures are far from perfect, and they have several problems. In this sense, they should be seen as both a source for History education and a source for seeing how I approached the task of making class presentations during my first year as an adjunct History teacher. This summer, I am teaching my second class at SCC, called “HIST 017: History of the United States to 1877,” and I can already see that my style of creating lecture presentations has changed dramatically. In these early PowerPoint presentations, you can see my attempt to make detailed footnotes for both myself and my students at the bottom of each PowerPoint slide. Each of the slides usually consists of a title, a few pictures, and a block of text summarizing the major concepts and providing citations for the images. I do not, however, list out the most important concepts on each of the slides. As you can probably imagine, this was a major point of complaint for some of my students.

All of the PowerPoint presentations for HIST 037, including this one, were developed from content in the following textbook: Ellen Carol DuBois and Lynn Dumenil,Through Women’s Eyes: An American History with Documents. Boston and New York: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2012. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to these two authors for their extraordinary work. Through Women’s Eyes is, indeed, a wonderful educational resource. Second, I would like to extend my gratitude to Rachel Purdie, another adjunct History instructor at SCC who introduced me to this work. Thanks, and enjoy!

The following PowerPoint presentation is about Native American women in the colonial era, and it was presented to my HIST 037 class on Wednesday, September 2, 2015.

Presentation on Native American Women in the Colonial Era — HIST 037 (9-2-15)

Children’s Series that Explores the Legends of the Haitian Pirate Henri “Black” Caesar Releases its Second Volume

Dear readers, over the course of my time researching the legends of the Afro-American pirate Black Caesar, I have come across many fascinating projects and interesting people. One of these projects is the children’s book series Tullybeth, written by two sisters from Miami, Florida, named Rachel and Marissa Cossio and with cover art by Jennifer Leiner. The first installment of the series was named Tullybeth, after the title character. It was published in 2013 in both paperback and as an Ebook through Amazon Digital Services. It was Rachel and Marissa’s debut novel. The following blog post describes the plot of these thrilling novels and then offers up some thoughts on why pirates continue to captivate both readers and writers of children’s fiction after centuries in the genre.  Continue reading “Children’s Series that Explores the Legends of the Haitian Pirate Henri “Black” Caesar Releases its Second Volume”

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