HIS 3930: History of Modern Racial Theories

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					History of Racial Thought in Europe and the United States
EUH 5934, Section 8348
Spring 2008
Prof. Mitchell Hart


This seminar deals with the history of racial thinking in Europe and the United States.
Chronologically, it moves from the ancient to the modern period, with a focus on the
period of the Enlightenment into the twentieth century. This is a course in intellectual
and cultural history, so we will be chiefly concerned with tracing images and ideas about
purported racial origins, identities, and differences over time, through texts. (The
political and social uses to which racial theories were put will be of secondary interest,
though these are of course extremely important.) The class will begin with notions of
race and difference in the ancient world, proceed to the middle ages, the Renaissance, the
eighteenth century and the Enlightenment; we will then deal with racial thinking in
particular national contexts, taking a comparative approach that allows us to begin to
trace synchronic continuities and discontinuities. Along the way we will consider the
development of racial theories in relation to intellectual disciplines within the human or
social sciences, chief among them ethnography and anthropology.


Required texts:

George Frederickson, Racism: A Short History
Benjamin Isaac, The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity
The Color of Liberty: Histories of Race in France, edited by Sue Peabody and Tyler
Stovall
Maurice Olender, Languages of Paradise
Daniel Pick, Faces of Degeneration
Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the
Alchemy of Race
Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in
the United States


In addition, xeroxed articles will be distributed and/or pdf files assigned on a regular
basis. These are also required readings.

Course Requirements: Attendance is mandatory. This is a seminar, so your repeated
absence will be noted and will directly affect your grade in the course. Active
participation is required. That means you must do the reading on a regular basis and
come prepared to discuss the assigned material. You are expected to come prepared to
ask questions of the text, and to carry on a continuous discussion of the texts in relation to
one another.
Each week, everyone will read the week’s assigned readings and write up a one to two
page summary of each group of readings.

Each week, at least one member of the seminar will assume responsibility for leading the
discussion about that week’s assigned material. As that person, you will have carefully
read the material (and ideally, extra material such as reviews of the assigned book) and
come prepared to answer questions and lead discussions.

Again, the success of a seminar depends almost entirely on your active involvement and
engagement with the material and with each other during the class. This is not an
undergraduate lecture class; you cannot sit passively while others do the intellectual work
for you.


Seminar Paper: Each of you will produce a 12-15 page essay on a topic to be agreed
upon by you and me. This paper is intended to give you the opportunity to explore in
depth a more specific issue or theme that is of particular interest to you. I suggest you
start thinking right away about such a topic, identify it, and come and speak with me.
This essay will demonstrate your ability to do historical research and write a critical
historical essay at the advanced graduate level.

Seminar Presentation: Towards the end of the semester, after we have discussed the
assigned readings, we will begin with the presentation of your research. Each of you will
be responsible for circulating a version of your presentation to the other members of the
class no later than a week before your presentation. You will then make a 15 minute
presentation of your research (undertaken for the research paper) to the class,
summarizing the major points of what you circulated. The class will then discuss your
paper, critique it, offer suggestions, etc.


Seminar Schedule


1. Introduction

George Frederickson, Racism: A Short History, chapters 1 and 2


2. Antiquity

Reading: Benjamin Isaac, The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity

        Denise Kimber Buell, “Rethinking the Relevance of Race for Early Christian
Self-Definition,” The Harvard Theological Review, v. 94, no. 4, 2001, pp. 449-476
(available on JSTOR)
3. Medieval and Renaissance

Reading: Thomas Hahn, “The Difference the Middle Ages Makes: Color and Race
Before the Modern World,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 31:1, Winter
2001
       Robert Bartlett, “Medieval and Modern Concepts of Race and Ethnicity,” Journal
of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 31:1, Winter 2001
       Linda Lomperis, “Medieval Travel Writing and the Question of Race,” Journal of
Medieval and Early Modern Studies 31:1, Winter 2001
       William Chester Jordon, “Why ‘Race’,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern
Studies 31:1, Winter 2001
       Jennifer Morgan, “Some Could Suckle Over Their Shoulder”: Male Travelers,
Female Bodies, and the Gendering of Racial Ideologies, 1500-1770,” The William and
Mary Quarterly, 3rd Series, vol. 54, no. 1, 1997

(All of these articles are available on JSTOR)


4. Modern

Readings:

George Frederickson, Racism: A Short History (chapters 3 and 4 and conclusion)

Londa Schiebinger, “Race and Sex in Eighteenth Century Science,” Eighteenth Century
Studies, v. 23, no. 4, 1990 (available on JSTOR)

Maurice Olender, Languages of Paradise

The Color of Liberty: Histories of Race in France, edited by Sue Peabody and Tyler
Stovall

 H. L. Malchow, Gothic Images of Race in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Xeroxed
selection)

Reginald Horsman, “Origins of Racial Anglo-Saxonism in Great Britain Before 1850,”
Journal of the History of Ideas, v. 37, no. 3, 1976 (available on JSTOR)

 Richard Weikart, “The Origins of Social Darwinism in Germany, 1859-1895,” Journal
of the History of Ideas, vol. 54, no. 3, 1993 (available on JSTOR)

 Daniel Pick, Faces of Degeneration

Sander Gilman, The Jew’s Body
Sander Gilman and Nancy Stepan, “Appropriating the Idioms of Science” (Xeroxed
handout)

Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the
Alchemy of Race

Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in
the United States

				
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