English 166AC

Special Topics in American Cultures: Race and Revision in Early America

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2009 Donegan, Kathleen
Donegan, Kathleen
TTh 11-12:30 110 Barrows

Other Readings and Media

Toni Morrison, A Mercy; Shakespeare, The Tempest; Anon., The Female American; Maryse Conde, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem; Mary Beth Norton, In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692; Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia; William Wells Brown, Clotel, or the President’s Daughter; Barry Unsworth, Sacred Hunger


In this course, we will read both historical and literary texts to explore how racial categories came into being in New World cultures, and how these categories were tested, inhabited, and re-imagined by the human actors they sought to define. Our study will be organized around three early American sites: Jamestown fort, Witchcraft at Salem, and Jefferson’s Virginia. These three sites will function as interpretive nodes, connecting narratives that span from slave resistance on West Indian plantations to Anglo-Indian warfare on the Wabanaki frontier. In each place, African, Native, and European ways of making meaning radically collided and concepts of racial difference were created and concretized. The effect, of course, was never total, and we will study how that slippage and excess de-stabilized these histories, which are still being revised. Readings include Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Marsyse Conde’s I, Tituba, Toni Morrison’s A Mercy, Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger. Expect shipwrecks, deserted islands, revolutions, curses, two midterms and a final.

This course satisfies UC Berkeley's American Cultures requirement.

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