English 166

Special Topics: Slavery and Conspiracy

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Spring 2017 Wagner, Bryan
MWF 3-4 258 Dwinelle

Book List

Delany, M.: Blake; or, The Huts of America (Ed. J. McGann); Grandin, G.: Empire of Necessity; Gray, T.: Confessions of Nat Turner; Jordan, W.: Tumult and Silence at Second Creek; Lepore, J.: New York Burning; Melville, H.: Benito Cereno; Walker, D.: Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World

Other Readings and Media

Lemuel Paker Conner, Testimony of Fourteen Slaves Relative to a Proposed Slave Uprising in Adams County, Mississippi.

Amasa Delano, Narrative of Voyages and Travels in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, Comprising Three Voyages around the World.

Daniel Horsmanden, The Journal of the Proceedings in the Detection of the Conspiracy . . . . for Burning the City of NEW-YORK

James Hamilton, Negro Plot: An Account of the Late Intended Insurrection Among a Portion of the Blacks of the City of Charleston.

Lionel Kennedy, An Official Report of the Trials of Sundry Negroes, Charged with an Attempt to Raise an Insurrection in the State of South Carolina.

"Proces contre les Esclaves du Poste”, from Original Acts of Pointe Coupee (available in manuscript, French transcription, and English translation).


This is a multidisciplinary seminar on the law and literature of slave conspiracy. We will be reading novels and stories by authors such as Martin Delany and Herman Melville alongside contemporary newspapers, confessions, warrants, witness depositions, and trial transcripts. We will also be reading history and theory by Peter Brooks, Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, Jill Lepore, Michel-Rolph Trouillot, and Gordon Wood. Students will choose between writing a research paper (20-25 pages) and working on a collaborative digital project related to one of the conspiracies covered in the course.

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