HIST 444 (3 cr): Slave Societies in the Americas


Course Outline

  • Two Assignments
  • Online Discussions
  • Final Project

Course Description

Student Profile

Karla Sapp, Elementary and High School Teacher

Karla Sapp

“I had only taken classes before on slavery in the US, so it was very interesting to learn more about slavery in Latin America, South America, and Africa.”

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History 444: Slave Societies in the Americas.  This course explores the history of slavery through a series of themes including but not limited to representation, religion and healing, gender, violence, anti-slavery revolutions, memory, public history and the archive. This is an online course but it will be taught like an upper level seminar, with weekly readings and online discussion.

Note: this is an online course and requires the use of a computer with access to the internet.

Intended Audience

The web-based course has the capacity to attract students from a wide range of faculties, colleges and universities who are looking for an Arts course interesting in subject and stimulating in approach.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of History 444 you will be able to:

  • define the principal terms employed in the scholarship on slavery;
  • analyze primary sources and understand the ways that historians work with them;
  • explain the reasons for slavery’s rise, continuance and ending;
  • critically analyze recent literature on slavery;
  • critically assess scholarly and popular narratives about the slave experience; and
  • understand the nature of the African diasporic communities in the New World and the ongoing legacies of slavery.

Course Overview

History 444, Slave Societies in the Americas, is designed as an exploration of slavery on two levels. First, we will trace the historical trajectory of slavery in the Americas, which will involve following its emergence and growth, thinking about the multiple ways slavery was experienced and resisted, and acquainting ourselves with anti-slavery movements, ideologies and revolutions. We will also think about memory and public history and think about the ways slavery is represented in various forms of media. Second, this course will pay a lot of attention to the problem of sources: how do we know what we know? In particular, slaves didn’t leave many written records, so piecing together their stories is a methodological puzzle for historians. We will study how they do that, and ask about the benefits and limitations of distinct approaches. The reading load is 100-150 pages per week, and there will be weekly short written assignments along with two papers of 1000 words each, as well as a final assignment for which students may choose to do write a paper or create a multimedia project.

Course Work

  • Two short essays (1000 words).
  • Weekly participation online
  • A final project/paper


Two Assignments (20 marks each) 40
Discussions 40
Final exam 20


  • Harms, Robert W., The Diligent: A Voyage through the Worlds of the Slave Trade. ISBN:9780465028726
  • Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route

HIST444 Textbook Order Form