HIST 361
The Atlantic World: Connections, Crossings, and Confluences Spring 2024
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed AMST 360

Class Details

This course considers the Atlantic World as both a real place and a concept: an ocean surrounded and shaped by diverse people and communities, and an imagined space of shared or competing affiliations. Moving from “time out of mind” to the early nineteenth century, it examines ecological, cultural, political, economic, intellectual, and spiritual transits as well as exchanges among Indigenous/Native American, African and African American, Asian and Asian American, and Euro-colonial people. It introduces conceptual dimensions of this Atlantic paradigm and case studies that illuminate its human subtleties, with the goal of examining “early American” history through a transnational and transoceanic lens. The course takes an interdisciplinary approach to these intertwined histories, and reckons with how the very construction of “history” has, at different turns, affected what is shared, known, valued, and commemorated–or overwritten, denied, or seemingly silenced. Attentive to the structures of power that inflect every part of Atlantic histories, it offers specific ethical frameworks for approaching these topics. Blending methods grounded in oral traditions and histories, place-based knowledge systems, documentary/written archives, songs, archaeology, material culture, and other forms of expression and representation, it traces pathways for recasting the nature and meanings of these connected spaces and histories. In addition, the course consistently connects historical experiences with the twenty-first century, and how communities today are grappling with the afterlives and ongoing effects of these Atlantic pasts through calls to action for reparations, repatriation and rematriation, Land Back, climate justice, and other forms of accountability. The course also provides an opportunity to engage with original materials pertaining to Atlantic World histories in the Williams College Archives/Special Collections and Art Museum.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 3868
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active participation in class discussion, several short essays based on readings and discussion topics, museum/archives exercise, final essay/project
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: sophomore, junior, and senior History majors
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AMST 360 Division II HIST 361 Division II
DPE Notes: This course examines the formation and articulation of racial, ethnic, cultural, and other forms of difference across the Atlantic World, and ways that people from Indigenous, African/American, and Asian/American communities have engaged with and challenged European colonization. It devotes substantial time to critical methodologies that re-center voices oftentimes treated as "silenced" or "absent" in colonial literatures, and helps students build fluencies in recovering and interpreting them.

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