History 3033 Spring 2009


General Guidelines

MWF 1-1:50 p.m.
Room: Conwill Hall 108

The Atlantic World, 1400-1850:
Africans, Americans, and Europeans on the Move
Doug Catterall
office: 634 South Shepler Tower
work telephone: 581-2949
e-mail: dougc@cameron.edu

Office Hours: M W F, 11A-12P, 2-3P, and by appointment.

Goals and Approach:

In this course we will explore the movement of people, ideas, and material goods between societies in Africa, Europe and the Americas between 1400 and 1850. The ongoing ties between these regions created what historians call the Atlantic world and in this course we will be exploring what linked the diverse cultures of the Atlantic world and how they became connected.

The course begins with the birth of the Atlantic world in the 15th century. In this century the Portuguese navigators like Vasco da Gama cracked the wind code of the Atlantic, making possible a more regular contact between African and European cultures. Portuguese and Spanish exploration of the African coast and then the Americas in search of commercial and imperial opportunities soon led to the colonization of Latin America and also changed life in Africa as well. Having examined these early interactions, we will look at the 17th-century efforts of the Dutch, English, and French to establish colonies in the Americas. Our study of this and the previous topic will also introduce us to the complex relationships between Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans in the Americas, all of whom found themselves living in a world that was not the home they had known. Next the course looks at the long-term influence of the slave trade on African societies in the 17th and 18th centuries and the impact of Atlantic world migration on Europe in the same period. Finally we will consider the changing world of the later 18th century and the first several decades of the 19th century, with its more regular commercial relations, larger European migrations, increasingly marginalized Native Americans, and intensified Atlantic slave trade.

Through this course you will learn to think in an integrative way about the histories of Africa, Europe, and the Americas, a valuable skill in an increasingly interconnected world. It is also my aim that each of you will improve your writing and discussion skills; your capacity for critical thought and analysis; and your ability to read insightfully.

Specific Objectives of the Course:

This course will provide you with opportunities to improve in the following three areas of intellectual endeavor:

Contextual Knowledge:
In this course you will improve your knowledge of the events, historical actors, and transformative trends that connected and influenced Africa, the Americas, and Europe.  With resepect to Europe you will learn about European efforts to explore and colonize the Americas and to manipulate societies in Africa to serve their goals of economic and political development as well as the transformations of Europe itself in this era.  You will also learn about how African societies were changing, socially,politically, and economically and how they responded to and influenced the efforts of Europeans to obtain labor and other commodities and how Africans in the Americas changed the "New World." Finally, you will learn about the response of indigenous societies in the Americas to the arrival of Europeans (and Africans) and the creation of the European-dominated colonial societies that largely replaced the indigenous societies of the Americas.  Given the complex processes this course tracks you will also gain exposure to the use of the following analytical categories: gender, ethnicity, identity, labor systems, political institutions, and social rank.

Historical Thinking:
Since this is a seminar in which our main goal will be to understand how different historians have tried to understand complex historical phenomena, you will improve your ability to evaluate conflicting interpretations of past events and issues.  You will do this in two ways: 1) by contributing to discussions in class, which is a major component of the course grade, and 2) by writing the reaction papers and working papers that form the writing component of the course.

Historical Research Skills:
The reaction papers in this course are not full-length research papers.  They do, however, involve you in a very intensive engagement with primary as well as secondary sources and demand that you utilize many of the skills necessary to a research paper.  Therefore, you will gain significant experience in using textual sources to perform historical research and you will learn how to organize the insights that you gain about the past from these sources.  In addition, we will discuss how historians have tried to relate their work to that of other historians (historiography); how they have used sources to explore the past (methodology); and how historians deal with the complex task of defining change, continuity, and the causes behind each.  Thus, you will be thinking about how to conduct, organize, and present research by examining and dicussing how others have done these things and you will gain a knowledge of the terms and categories that historians use when they practice their craft.

The Seminar Environment

A seminar is a course in which the basis for instruction is discussion.  Discussion is, of course, a collective enterprise, which means that this course works bests if everyone participates.  Participation chiefly means contributing ideas to our considerations of the various issues with which this course deals.  Thus, while I am the instructor, this is a course that you will very much be responsible for shaping.  I invite you to take advantage of the unique opportunities that a seminar environment offers.

As this course depends on a lively discussion environment, it is essential that there be freedom for everyone to contribute.  This means that disagreements over issues are in order.  Personal attacks, insults, or other disruptions of the discussion environment (e.g. arriving late, leaving early, talking with other students during class, sleeping, reading, passing notes), however, are not acceptable.

This is an advanced, 4000-level course and it is expected that you come into the course with some preparation both in terms of the skills needed to write a research paper and in terms of the context that we will be engaging with: early modern Europe.  I will not be able to provide a survey-type overview of the material in the course.  I will, of course, be happy to answer individual questions of a more general nature outside of class, but class discussion will focus on the assigned readings for the course.


Secondary Source Readings:

Egerton, et al., The Atlantic World: A History, 1400-1888 (Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, Inc., 2007).

Matthew Restall, Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).

James Sweet, Recreating Africa: Kinship, Culture, and Religion in the African-Portuguese World, 1441-1770 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2003).

Primary Source and Additional Secondary Source Readings:

Stedman’s Surinam: Life in an Eighteenth-Century Slave Society, edited by Richard Price and Sally Price (Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 1992).

Primary and Seconday Source Selections in Paper and Web-Based Form: These readings will be noted in the syllabus with **.  Should the reading not be in the public domain, I will indicate this with a ***.  This means that downloading or making multiple copies of the reading may violate U.S. copyright laws.


Of course there are requirements. Every course has them. Course-work consists of four elements: participation in discussion, formal writings, and an essay examinations.

Participation (100 points):

a. Attendance and Discussion (120 points possible): This is an upper division course run largely as a seminar.  Participation in discussion is therefore mandatory and your grade will suffer if you do not participate.  You can earn up to 3 points for each day you come to class, depending on your contributions to class discussion and classroom activities.  No credit will be extended for partially attended classes.

b. Credit for Participation: A perfect score in participation is 100 points.  Thus you need a minimum of 135 for an A, at leasts 120 for a B, at least 105 for a C, and 90 points for a D.  Anything less than that is an F.

Papers (450 Points): You will have to write two primary-source-based reaction papers for this course. Both papers must be typed in double-spaced 12-pt. Times Roman font, and appropriately footnoted.  The first source paper, which is to be 4-5 pages in length, will be worth 150 points and the second, 8-10 pages in length, 300 points (broken down into 200 points for the paper, 50 points for the mandatory drafting process, and 50 points for a 15-20-minute presentation on the secondary literature related to your paper topic).  Due dates for the papers are listed below.  All papers must be submitted via Turnitin.  If you are unfamiliar with this method of submitting papers let me know and I will assist you in registering to use the service, which is provided at no cost to you by the university.  General guidelines for the papers are available by clicking the hypertext in this sentence.  You can access specific guidelines for each of these projects by looking for the due date of each paper below, where you will find hyperlinks that will take you to a page containing additional information.
Midterm Examination (150 Points): This will be a short-answer and essay-based  examination.

Final Paper Presentation(50 Points): A 15-20 minute presentation of the findings of your final research paper on Surinam.

Table of the Course Components and Their Weighting

Course Component
Component Weight in Course Mark
100 Points
Reaction Papers 450 Points
Midterm 150 points
Final Presentation 50 Points
750 Points

Calculation of your mark: In this course 750 points is a perfect score.  Thus an A requires a minimum of 675 points, a B at least 600 points, a C at least 525 points, a D at least 450 points.  Anyone earning less than 450 points fails the course and earns a mark of F.

Guidelines for Academic Work:

Classroom Environment: Talking to your classmates or others outside the context of classroom activities is rude and will not be tolerated.  Reading outside materials, listening to music, taking telephone calls on your cell-phone, and similar non-class related activities are equally unacceptable.  I expect all students to be respectful of one another's right to speak and express opinions.  Disagreements and different viewpoints are welcome, but debates should not involve insults.  Finally, food and drink are permitted in class as long as courtesy is observed; e.g. if you haven't quite finished your cup of coffee, do bring it along to class, but turning the classroom into a cafeteria is not permissible.  

Attendance: As noted above, regular attendance is crucial to your success in this class.  If you miss class regularly, your grade will suffer.  I would also like to note that frequent lateness in coming to class and frequent early departures will also be penalized as these habits are rude to your fellow classmates and to me as the instructor.  I will take attendance daily in this class and an absence is an absence and will be counted as such.  

Preparation: All assignments for a given day, whether reading or writing, are to be completed before the class meets on that day.  I also recommend that you take notes as you read and during lectures and discussions as this will make studying for the quizzes and writing the papers for the class less of a challenge.

Late Papers: The following policy applies to all late papers for this course that will receive a letter grade.  All papers submitted at any time on the day that the paper is due will be considered on time.  Papers submitted after that date, no matter what the reason may be, will be automatically marked down one grade.  You will then have seven days from the original due date to turn in the paper.  If in that time you are unable to complete the work, the paper will receive a zero.

Late Informal Writings and Missed Participation Opportunities: No late informal writings will be accepted, so don't ask.  Moreover, if you miss class you miss that day's participation regardless of your reasons for having to do so.  Remember, though, that your participation grade is a composite of your performance inclass, your in-class analytical essay and your performance on informal writings.  As long as you manage to achieve the appropriate number of participation points, it will not matter to me how you do so.  Although I will obviously keep track of what you do by way of participation I would advise you to remain aware of where you stand for yourself so that you know whether or not you are achieving the necessary minimum level of participation.   

Missed Examinations: Make-ups for the final examination will be allowed only under extraordinary circumstances and the nature of any make-up final given will be determined at my discretion.

Academic Dishonesty: As per Section 4.07 of the CU Student Handbook: "Each student is expected to engage in all academic pursuits in a manner that is above reproach. Students are expected to maintain complete honesty and integrity in the academic experiences both in and out of the classroom. Any student found guilty of academic dishonesty will be subject to disciplinary action."  For examples of academic dishonesty please see the full version of Section 4.07 at: http://www.cameron.edu/student_development/student_conduct/academic.html

Among the most serious offenses a student can commit is plagiarism, which is the representation of the work of another as your own. In all of the writing you do for this course you must make clear to me which ideas in a paper are your own and which come from someone else. This is especially important for any formal essays you write. In such essays you must cite all primary and secondary sources you use in accordance with the proper conventions.  Instructions on the basics of citation may be found under the general guidelines for papers.  before any formal essays come due.  If for some reason you do not choose to examine this page, know that you will not be exempt from following its guidelines.  In cases of plagiarism, the Department of History and Government at CU follows the plagiarism policy in the current "Student Handbook," as described in Sections 4.07 and 4.08 of the CU Code of Student Conduct.  Penalties for plagiarism as defined by the Student Code of Conduct include:

1) The student may be required to perform additional academic work/project not required of other students in the course;

2) The student may be required to withdraw from the course with a grade of "W" or "F"; or

3) The student's grade in the course or on the examination or other academic work affected by the dishonesty may be reduced to any extent, including a reduction to failure. 

Please heed this warning as I am quite serious about it.

Disability Statement: As per the Office of Student Development, "It is the policy of Cameron University to accommodate students with disabilities, pursuant to federal and state law.  Students with disabilities who need classroom accommodations must make their requests by contacting the Office of Student Development at (580) 581-2209, North Shepler Room 314."

Website for this office:


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Schedule of Readings, Lecture Topics, Assignments and Activities

Please Note: The Syllabus is Subject to Change if that Becomes Advisable or Necessary!

Week 1 Living in an Atlantic World Society Today

(1.12) Introduction. 

(1.14) Why Does Atlantic History Matter?
Read: ***Overview of U.S. Immigration History and Policy by Christopher Jencks and the Responses **: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/14868; http://www.nybooks.com/articles/15423; plus ONE of the ***recent views expressed on  immigration in Europe and the U.S. as assigned by me: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A64179-2005Mar24.html;

(1.16) What Is the Atlantic World for Historians?
Read: The Atlantic World, 1-38.

Week 2 The Genesis of an Atlantic World

(1.19) Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday--NO CLASS

(1.21) Iberian and West African Societies to 1492.
The Atlantic World, 41-64.

(1.23) Meso-American, Iberian, and West African Societies to 1492.
The Atlantic World, 64-76; Selections from Leo Africanus, The History and Description of Africa**: Timbuktu.***; Selections European Voyage Accounts**; Richard Eden on Benin***, Dom Francisco on Kilwa; Vasco da Gama, Round Africa to India**

Week 3 Iberian Expansion into the Americas, c. 1492-1600. 

(1.26) Iberians in the Americas: Early Expeditions
Read: The Atlantic World, 77-92

(1.28) Iberians in the Americas: Imperial Consolidation
Read: The Atlantic World, 92-113,

(1.30) Myths About Spanish Soldiers
Read: Restall, 1-26.

Week 4 Spanish Expansion into the Americas Reconsidered.

(2.2) More Myths About Spanish Soldiers
Read: Restall, 27-43, 64-76.

(2.4) Myths About Native Americans
Read: Restall, 44-63, 77-99.

(2.6) Myths About Native Americans
Read: Restall, 100-147.

Week 5 Recreating the Conquest of the Mexica.

(2.9) Examining the Evidence 1: From the Cholulan Massacre (October 1519) to the Tóxcatl Festival (May 1520)
Read: Review and carefully analyze those elements of the "Narratives," and "Documents," sections that fall within the period above as specified by the "Timeline" on the Conquest of Mexico Web-Site by Nancy Fitch of Cal-State Fullerton and be prepared to discuss Spanish, Mexica, Cholulan, Tlaxcalan perspectives**: http://www.historians.org/tl/LessonPlans/ca/Fitch/index.htm.  Note, the section entitled "For the Student" may be helpful in preparing for your analysis.

(2.11) Examining the Evidence 2: From the return of Cortés to Tenochtitlan (June 1520) to the final conquest of Tenochtitlán (August 13, 1521)
Read: Review and carefully analyze those elements of the "Narratives," and "Documents," sections that fall within the period above as specified by the "Timeline" on the Conquest of Mexico Web-Site by Nancy Fitch of Cal-State Fullerton and be prepared to discuss Spanish and Mexica perspectives**: http://www.historians.org/tl/LessonPlans/ca/Fitch/index.htm.  Note, the section entitled "For the Student" may be helpful in preparing for your analysis.

(2.13) Examining the Evidence 3: Depicting the Conquest
Read: Review and analyze the pair of paintings to which you were assigned that are to be found at **Conquest of Mexico Web-Site by Nancy Fitch of Cal-State Fullerton under subheading "Image Exercises" under the heading "Documents": http://www.historians.org/tl/LessonPlans/ca/Fitch/index.htm.  What does one gain from the pictorial evidence?

Week 6 European Dynamics and the Atlantic World

(2.16) Religion and Politics in 16th-Century Europe
: The Atlantic World, 115-147.

(2.18) European Migrations to and Settlements in the Americas
: The Atlantic World, 148-183.

(2.20) A Dutch Colony in North America? Classifying New Netherland
Read: Read the following sections--"Manhattan," "Long Island," "Connecticut," "Hudson River," and "Albany"-- (and by this I mean you need to read the introductory section and explore all of the related links!) at the following web site on New Netherland: http://www.nnp.org/vtour/index.html.  Classify the colony the Dutch established in what is now New York using the model in The Atlantic World on pages 168 & 169.  Does your classification agree with the text or not?

Turn In: First Primary Source Essay

Week 7 The Establishment of Plantation Colonies c. 1500-1800

(2.23) How Did Slaves Come to the Americas
Read: The Atlantic World, 185-214; The 18th-Century Slave Trade in Sources: Written and Visual
Read: ***Jean Barbot's Account** of the slave trade at: http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/black_voices/voices_display.cfm?id=31
and ***James Barbot's 1732 account** of a shipboard slave revolt at: http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/black_voices/voices_display.cfm?id=36
and ***Alexander Falconbridge on the slave markets** at :
and be prepared to discuss three images (not maps thus) from the following image gallery** (n.b. bring the images you analyze with you to class): http://hitchcock.itc.virginia.edu/Slavery/.

(2.25) Changes in Consumption and Economic Structures in Africa, Europe, and the Americas
Read: The Atlantic World, 217-252. 

(2.27) Ethnicity and Culture in the Atlantic World, 1450-1830
Read: The Atlantic World, 255-289. 

Week 8 Slave Life in Brazil: The Classic Sugar Colony

(3.2) African Ethnicity, Kinship and Family in Brazil and West Africa
Sweet, 1-58.

(3.4) Slave/Master Relations in Brazil
Read: Sweet, 59-83.

(3.6) African Encounters with Religion
Read: Sweet, 87-117.

Week 9 African and Brazilian Religious Cultures

(3.9) African Divination, Alternative Medicine, and Witchcraft
Read: Sweet, 119-188.

(3.11) African Religion and Catholicism
Read: Sweet, 191-230.

(3.13) Midterm

Week 10 Introducing Dutch Plantation Culture

(3.23) Introducing Surinam

Read: Stedman's Surinam, xi-Chapters 3.
Discuss: Sweet, 119-137.

(3.25) Warfare in Surinam
Read: Stedman's Surinam, Chapter 3-5.
Discuss: Sweet, 139-160.

(3.27) Plantation and Urban Life in Surinam
Discuss: Midterm results; Sweet, 161-171.

Week 11 British, French, and Native American Interactions in New England, 1700-1800

(3.30) Warfare in Surinam 2
Read: Stedman's Surinam, Chapters 6-11 according to team assignments.

(4.1) Slave Life in Surinam
Read: Stedman's Surinam, Chapters 12-26 according to team assignments.
Discuss: Sweet, 171-188.

(4.3) Africans and Christianity in the Portuguese World
Discuss: Sweet, 191-230.

Week 12 Secondary Literature on Surinam

(4.6) Stedman's Final Days in Surinam
Read: Stedman's Surinam, Chapters 27-30.
Turn In: Proposal for Final Paper

(4.8) Secondary Literature Presentation/Discussion: Surinam and the Wider Caribbean
Read: Present two articles on Surinam, tying them also to Sweet and The Atlantic World.

(4.10) Secondary Literature Presentation/Discussion: Surinam and the Wider Caribbean
Read: Present two articles on Surinam, tying them also to Sweet and The Atlantic World.

Week 13 Imperial Conflict in the Atlantic World   

(4.13) Warfare in the Atlantic World 1
Read: The Atlantic World, 291-305.

(4.15) Warfare in the Atlantic World 2
Read: The Atlantic World, 305-321.

(4.17) Warfare in the Atlantic World 3
Read: The Atlantic World, 323-358.

Week 14 Writing Week

(4.20) Warfare in the Atlantic World 4
Read: The Atlantic World, 361-389.

(4.22) Peer Critique Day
Turn In: Rough Draft of Final Paper Including an Extra Copy for Peer Critique

(4.24) Draft Conferences

Week 15 The End of the Atlantic World

(4.27) Warfare in the Atlantic World 5
Read: The Atlantic World, 361-389.

(4.29) The End of Empire 1
The Atlantic World, 391-425.

(5.1) The End of Empire 2
The Atlantic World, 427-493.

Week 16 Finals Week

(5.4) Final Review

(5.8) Final, Friday, 1-3 P
Final Paper Presentations
Turn In: Final Paper

Please note, the syllabus is subject to change if I judge that this is necessary
and that the web-syllabus is the syllabus of record.

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