Required Book

Harris, Leslie M., James T. Campbell and Alfred L. Brophy, eds. Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies.  Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2019.

Featured Resources

  • 1619 Project. New York Times Magazine. August 19, 2019. [WEB]
  • Arguing Over Slavery in the Constitution. History 404. Dickinson College. 2015.  [WEB]
  • Bombaro, Christine and John M. Osborne. Forgotten Abolitionist:  John A.J. Creswell of Maryland.  Smashwords E-Book, House Divided Project. 2015. [WEB]
  • Carey, Brycchan. “Olaudah Equiano.”  1999-2018.  [WEB]
  • Coates, Ta-Nehisi. “The Case for Reparations.” The Atlantic. June 2014. [WEB]
  • Dickinson & Slavery. House Divided Project at Dickinson College. 2019. [WEB]
  • Foner, Eric. “Confederate Statues and ‘Our’ History.” New York Times. 8/20/17. [WEB]
  • Huebner, Timothy B. “Roger B. Taney and the Slavery Issue: Looking Before –and Beyond—Dred Scott.”  Journal of American History 97 (June 2010): 17-38. [JSTOR]
  • Hughes, Coleman. “Reparations & Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Pyrrhic Victory.”   3/17/19 [WEB]
  • Kara Walker. Art21 [WEB]
  • Lincoln’s Writings: The Multi-Media Edition. House Divided Project.  [WEB]
  • [Moses Williams] “Former Slave Who Became a Master Silhuoette Artist.” JSTOR Daily [WEB]
  • Painter, Nell Irvin. “Sojourner Truth.” Gender & History 2 (Spring 1990). [WEB]
  • Prince of Emancipation. House Divided Project. Google Arts & Culture. 2016. [WEB]
  • Schuessler, Jennifer. “Confronting Academia’s Ties to Slavery.” NYT. 3/5/17 [WEB]
  • Sinha, Manisha. “What Those Monuments Stand For.” NY Daily News. 8/18/17. [WEB]
  • Smith, Roberta. “The Case for Keeping San Francisco’s Murals.” NYT, 7/26/19 [WEB]
  • Staples, Brent. “South’s White Terror Will Never Be Forgotten.”  4/25/18 [WEB]
  • Unofficial Teacher’s Guide to Spielberg’s Lincoln. House Divided Project.  [WEB]
  • Whitehead, Colson. The Underground Railroad. New York: Doubleday, 2016 (excerpt) [WEB]
  • Wilkerson, Isabel. “Mike Brown’s shooting and Jim Crow lynchings have too much in common. It’s time for America to own up.” The Guardian.  August 25, 2014 [WEB]
  • Writing Spaces: Readings on Writings. 2010-19 [WEB]

Biographical Essays

By Friday, October 4, students will submit a short biographical essay (4 to 6 pages, typed, double-spaced) about a key figure from the Dickinson & Slavery exhibition.  Students must get approval for their subject choice by email in advance from Prof. Pinsker.  Each essay should contain an academic argument or thesis statement about the subject’s significance within the story of American slavery.  Essays should cite effectively to a combination of primary and secondary sources.  In particular, students should attempt to use the main course text (Slavery and the University) to help explain the significance of their subjects within the study of slavery.  Profiles should be formatted in a Word or PDF document with title page and Chicago-style footnotes.  Instead of a bibliography, students should include an analytical “Sources” section that briefly describes the array of sources available on their subject.  Biographical essays will be graded on research, analysis and prose. Prior to submission, students must share a draft of their essays via email to an assigned group of peer reviewers. Late profiles will be penalized up to 5 points per day.

Creative Writing Exercises

By Sunday, November 3 [REVISED], students will submit a short creative writing exercise (4 to 6 pages, typed, line spacing variable) which attempts to recreate the voice of a historical figure from the Dickinson & Slavery exhibit.  Students are encouraged but not required to use the same subject from their earlier biographical essay.   Most students will attempt to recreate a fictional letter, speech, diary entry, or reminiscence, although other types of creative formats (such as poem or short story) are possible.  Examples of primary sources and models of relevant historical fiction are available within the Dickinson & Slavery exhibit and through the 1619 Project.  Exercises should be formatted in a Word or PDF document with title page.  No footnotes are required, but students should include an analytical “Sources” section at the end that briefly describes the array of sources used to help inspire their particular ideas about fictional voice.  Exercises will be graded on creativity in applying research, character development and prose.  Late exercises will be penalized up to 5 points per day.

Persuasive essays

By Monday, November 18, students will submit a short persuasive essay (4 to 6 pages, typed, double-spaced) that presents an argument for how to improve the commemoration of Dickinson & Slavery using at least one specific figure as a central example.  Students are encouraged but not required to use the same subject from their earlier biographical essay or creative writing exercise.   Students should discuss their example subject and other examples within the context of broader issues raised in the Dickinson & Slavery report.  Essays should be formatted in Word or PDF with title page and Chicago-style footnotes.  No bibliography or source analysis is required. Essays will be graded on research, analysis and prose.  Late essays will be penalized up to 5 points per day.

Multi-Media Exhibit

By Friday, December 6, students will be required to build multi-media teaching website (in the free platform Weebly) that uses a historical figure from the Dickinson & Slavery exhibit as a compelling gateway for teaching and learning.  Websites should have at least three main components:  a biographical page, a creative page, and a public memory page.  The biographical page should include a biographical essay on the subject that explains his or her connection to the story of American slavery.  The creative page should feature at least one creative exercise inspired by the subject (literary, visual, musical, etc.). The public memory page should feature a persuasive essay that explains where the subject fits within the larger challenges of commemorating slavery at Dickinson.  Students are encouraged to revise one or more of their earlier writing assignments for this website.  All sites should include text with Chicago-style footnotes, and supplemented with properly credited and captioned images.  Students who create and embed well-developed multi-media resources at their sites –such as online maps,  timelines, podcasts, or videos– may receive up to 5 points extra credit.    Websites may also incorporate multi-media elements from external sources, but students must acknowledge and properly credit all of those sources.  Late projects will be penalized up to 5 points per day.

Grade Distribution

Class Participation                  20 percent

Biographical essays                20 percent

Creative writing                       20 percent

Persuasive essays                   20 percent

Multi-Media Exhibit                 20 percent


Day Date Discussion Topics Reading Assignments
Thursday 8/29 Methods & Expectations 1015am to 1130am
Saturday 8/31 NO CLASS
Monday 9/2 FIELD TRIP:  Dickinson & Slavery exhibit 1619 project
Friday 9/6 –Integrity Tutorial DUE Via Moodle
Friday 9/6 Universities Studying Slavery

Angela, Black James

Harris book (Intro, chap 11, 16, Afterword), Schuessler article
Monday 9/9 “Revolutionary” scholars

Dickinson, Rush, and Nisbet

Harris book (chaps 1-2, 13)

Harris VIDEO // Wilder VIDEO

Friday 9/13 Close reading:  Constitution & Slavery Arguing over Slavery debate
Monday 9/16 Antebellum slavery

Cooper, Duncan, and McAllister

Harris book (chaps 3-6)
Thursday 9/19 REQUIRED LECTURE: Kwame Appiah ATS, 7pm OR READ OP-ED
Friday 9/20 Dred and Harriet Scott case

Roger Taney and James Buchanan

Huebner article (Finding Journal Article Tutorial)
Monday 9/23 FIELD TRIP:  College Library (Classroom 1)

John A.J. Creswell

Bombaro & Osborne e-book

View Tutorials:  Evaluating Sources & Choosing A Database


Friday 9/27 19th Century Race, Gender, and Class

Johnson, Pinkney and Young families

Harris book (chap. 7-10)
Monday 9/30 NO CLASS  //  Peer review begins
Friday 10/4 NO CLASS  // Biographical essays DUE By 5pm via email
Monday 10/7 FIELD TRIP:  College Archives
Friday 10/11 The Challenge of Ex-Slave Narratives

Henry Spradley

Carey website (background + extracts) and Booker T. Washington (Up From Slavery –view map + Chap. 1)
Monday 10/14 Literature of Abolitionism


1619 project: poetry & fiction

(See Literary Timeline on p. 6)

Friday 10/18 Close reading:  “Ain’t I A Woman” speech Painter essay // VIDEO
Monday 10/21 FALL PAUSE
Friday 10/25 Images of Enslavement

Moncure Conway

Moses Williams, Kara Walker, Smith op-ed
Monday 10/28 FIELD TRIP:  Trout Gallery
Friday 11/1 Hollywood & Slavery Movie gallery, Lincoln movie guide
Sunday 11/3 Creative writing exercises DUE By 5pm via email
Monday 11/4 Imagining the Underground Railroad

John McClintock

Whitehead excerpt and VIDEO

[Course request opens]

Friday 11/8 Close reading:  Lincoln & Slavery Lincoln’s Writings
Monday 11/11 Re-assessing Reconstruction

James Miller McKim

Prince of Emancipation, 1619 project—Bouie, Stevenson
Friday 11/15 Legacy of Slavery & Lynching

Watts Brothers, Esther Popel Shaw

Foner, Sinha, Staples &  Wilkerson op-eds, An Outrage
Monday 11/18 NO CLASS // Persuasive essays DUE By 5pm via email
Tuesday 11/19 REQUIRED LECTURE:  Jonathan White College Archives, 430pm
Friday 11/22 Debate over Reparations Coates and Hughes essays + VIDEO
Monday 11/25 FIELD TRIP:  Carlisle Walking Tour

Spradley VIDEO

Monday 12/2 Patriotism and Dissent


1619–Jones, Douglass speech

127 Conway Street

Friday 12/6 LAST DAY:  Multi-Media exhibits DUE By 5pm (via email with link)