Summer 2005

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

Eudell,Demetrius L.

06/27/2005 - 07/15/2005
Monday-Thursday 01:30 PM - 04:30 PM

Public Affairs Center 422

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 pre1492 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 15th-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.

The readings for the course will be taken from the following texts: Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart; Gomes Eannes de Azurara, The Chronicle of the Discovery and Conquest of Guinea; Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Before Columbus: Exploration and Colonization from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, 1229-1492; Thomas F. Glick, Islamic and Christian Spain in the Early Middle Ages; Johan Huizinga, The Waning of the Middle Ages; Jacques Le Goff, The Medieval Imagination; A. C. de C. M. Saunders, A Social History of Black Slaves and Freedmen in Portugal, 1441-1451; Ronald Segal, Islam's Black Slaves: The Other Black Diaspora; James H. Sweet, Recreating Africa: Culture, Kinship and Religion in the African-Portuguese World, 1441-1770; Julie Taylor, Muslims in Medieval Italy: The Colony at Lucera; and John Thornton, Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800.

Performance in the course will be based on four short writing assignments of three to four pages, an oral presentation, class participation, and a final essay (10-15 pages).

The class will meet on Friday, July 8 to make up for the July 4th celebration of Independence Day.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Demetrius Eudell (B.A. Dartmouth College; M.A., Ph.D. Stanford University) is associate professor of history. He is author of The Political Languages of Emancipation in the British Caribbean and the U.S. South (University of North Carolina Press, 2002). Professor Eudell's research interests include the history and culture of the Americas, slavery, abolition, and emancipation. Click here for more information about Demetrius Eudell.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Chinua Achebe, THINGS FALL APART (Anchor, 1st Edition), Paperback

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, BEFORE COLUMBUS (University of Pennsylvania Press), Paperback

Jacques Le Goff, THE MEDIEVAL IMAGINATION (University of Chicago Press), Paperback

Ronald Segal, ISLAM'S BLACK SLAVES: THE OTHER BLACK DIASPORA (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Paperback


This text is required for the course, however, due to the high cost, the instructor will have this text available on reserve at the Olin Library. Students need not purchase this text unless they want to.

Julie Taylor, MUSLIMS IN MEDIEVAL ITALY: COLONY OF LUCERA (Lexington Books), Hardcover


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