SOCS 641
Before the Americas: Africa, Iberia, and the Mediterranean

Demetrius Eudell

Course Description
This course examines the interactions of the societies and cultures before the rise of the Americas that would be set in motion by the 1492 voyages of Columbus. Thus, for our investigation, 1492 will serve as an endpoint rather than the point of departure. The course will attempt to delineate significant aspects of the pre-1492 world of the late Middle Ages Europe as well as of some African societies just before their encounter with Europeans. The inquiry will also include an examination of colonization in the eastern and western Mediterranean, the rise of the Iberian peninsula (especially with regard to the fifteenth century voyages of the Portuguese in the eastern Atlantic and off the west coast of Africa), and the role of slavery in both Europe and Africa. The course will then analyze the relations between Africa and Iberia as well as within these societies, especially with regard to the putative convivencia of the multiple groups coexisting within the latter. To this effect, central to our investigation also will be the role of Islam as it interacts with the two other monotheisms during this time. The main objective of the course is to give sustained attention to the intellectual and political world that made possible the Event of 1492 and the subsequent rise of European hegemony.
Required Texts

These books have been ordered and can be purchased at Broad Street Books. 

Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

Felipe Fernández-Armesto, Before Columbus: Exploration and Colonization…

Jacques Le Goff, The Medieval Imagination

Ronald Segal, Islam’s Black Slaves: The Other Black Diaspora

Julie Taylor, Muslims in Medieval Italy: The Colony of Lucera

In addition to these books, other required readings have been placed on reserve at the library in the Science Center. Most of these reading are only available in hard copy at the library in the Science Center. However, some be accessed electronically through the e-reserve link on the library’s webpage. These have been noted in the bibliography, which follows the schedule of the course, and lists all the additional required readings.

Course Requirements/Evaluation

Performance in the course will be based on weekly response papers (4 pages) as well as an extended final paper (10-15 pages). In addition, oral presentations and regular contributions made to class discussion will be considered in the final evaluation of each student’s performance in the course. The response papers (for which guidelines will be made available before the beginning of class) may be sent electronically to the email address of the instructor. The final paper, in hard copy, is due on Monday, July 25 by 12noon and may be placed in the mailbox of the instructor in the Center for African American Studies (343 High Street).

Short Written Assignments
For the course, in addition to a final paper, for which guidelines will be given on the first day of class, you are required to write three (3) short papers of at least four (4) pages in length. These papers should analyze one of the following four texts (noted below) of the class and are due by noon on the day of discussion. If you choose for one of your papers the text by Fernandez-Armesto, Before Columbus, you may submit it on the second day of discussion, Tuesday, June 28, 2005. Your paper should give a brief overview of the major argument, after which you should provide your own analysis of the text in terms of methodology, evidence, and argument. Papers may be sent electronically to my email address: deudell@wesleyan.edu.

Texts for Consideration
Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Before Columbus: Exploration and Colonization...

Jacques Le Goff, The Medieval Imagination

Ronald Segal, Islam's Black Slaves: The Other Black Diaspora

Julie Taylor, Muslims in Medieval Italy: The Colony of Lucera

Course Calendar
WEEK 1 THE MEDITERRANEAN
June 27 Abu-Lugod, Before European Hegemony

Fernández-Armesto, Before Columbus (Part 1, Chapters 1-5)

June 28

Fernández-Armesto, Before Columbus (Part 2, Chapters 6-9)

J. H. Parry, The Age of Reconnaissance (pp. 1-37)

June 29

Boorstin, “Why Not Arabs” in The Discoverers (pp. 178-185)

Hunwick and Powell, The African Diaspora in the Mediterranean Lands of Islam

Madina, “The Arabs” in The Columbia History of the World

June 30 Taylor, Muslims in Medieval Italy: The Colony of Lucera
WEEK 2 IBERIA
July 5 Le Goff, The Medieval Imagination (Introduction and Parts 1-3)
July 6 Glick, Islamic and Christian Spain in the Early Middle Ages

Root, “Speaking Christian: Orthodoxy and Difference in 16th Century Spain”

July 7 Alavi, Geography in the Middle Ages

Chorover, From Genesis to Genocide

Ferguson, The Science of Pleasure

July 8 Boorstin, The Discoverers (pp. 146-178)

Mudimbe, “Romanus Pontifex (1454) and the Expansion of Europe”

Parry, The Age of Reconnaissance (pp. 227-257)

WEEK 3 AFRICA
July 11 Achebe, Things Fall Apart
July 12 Segal, Islam’s Black Slaves: The Other Black Diaspora (Chapters 1-9)
July 13 Azurara, Conquests and Discoveries

Russell-Wood, “Before Columbus: Portugal’s African Prelude…”

Thorton, Africa and Africans

July 14 Wynter, “1492: A New World View”
Bibliography of Readings

Janet Abu-Lughod, Before European Hegemony: The World System A.D. 1250-1350 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 3-49, 352-373. 

S.M. Ziauddin Alavi, Geography in the Middle Ages (Dehli: Sterling Publishers (P) Ltd., 1966), 17-29. [e-reserve] 

Gomes Eannes de Azurara, Conquests and Discoveries of Henry the Navigator, Being the Chronicles of Azurara Ed. Virginia De Castro E Almeida, Trans. Bernard Miall (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1936), 119-137, 164-175. 

Daniel Boorstin, The Discoverers (New York: Random House, 1983), 146-185. 

Stephen Chorover, From Genesis to Genocide: The Meaning of Human Nature and the Power of Behavior Control (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1979), 1-55. 

Harvie Fergueson, The Science of Pleasure: Cosmos and Psyche in the Bourgeois Wold View (London: Routledge, 1990), 73-85. [e-reserve] 

Thomas F. Glick, Islamic and Christian Spain in the Early Middle Ages (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1979), 3-50. 

John Huntwick and Eve Trout Powell, The African Diaspora in the Mediterranean Lands of Islam (Princeton, NJ: Markus Weiner Publishers, 2002), ix-xxiv, 1-50. 

Maan Z. Madina, “The Arabs” in The Columbia history of the World, John Garrity and Peter Gay, eds. (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), 253-296. [e-reserve] 

V.Y. Mudimbe, “Romanus Pontifex (1454) and the Expansion of Europe,” in Race, Discourse and the Origins of the Americas: A New World View, Vera Lawrence and Rex Nettleford, eds. (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995), 59-65. [e-reserve] 

J.H. Parry, The Age of Reconnaissance (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1963), 1-37, 227-257. 

Deborah Root, “Speaking Christian: Orthodoxy and Difference in the Sixteenth-Century Spain” Representations, Issue 23 (Summer, 1988), 118-134. [e-reserve] 

A.J.R. Russell-Wood, “Before Columbus: Portugal’s African Prelude to the Middle Passage and Contribution to Discourse on Race and Slavery,” in Race, Discourse and the Origins of the Americas: A New World View, Vera Lawrence and Rex Nettleford, eds. (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995), 134-168. 

John Thornton, Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 1-71. 

Sylvia Wynter, “1492: A New World View,” in Race, Discourse and the Origins of the Americas: A New World View, Vera Lawrence and Rex Nettleford, eds. (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995), 5-57.

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