AAS-HIUS 366 Reading Responses

Reading Response #1 - due Wednesday, Jan. 29

How did "manhood" factor into arguments for and against African-American participation in the Spanish-American war? Were the Buffalo Soldiers, in your opinion, American heroes worthy of commemoration or dupes of America's racist imperial policy? (Be prepared to defend your position.) Which of the various types of black folk heroes
described by Levine best applies to the Buffalo Soldiers who fought in both the Indian and Spanish-American wars?

Reading Response #2 - due Wednesday, Feb. 5

In All God's Dangers (pp. 3-172), Nate Shaw describes his experiences as an gricultural laborer and his wife's experiences as a domestic laborer in the post-emancipation South. Using specific examples from Shaw’s memoir and the more general overview provided by historian Leon Litwack in Trouble in Mind (pp. 114-178), answer this question:

What difference did freedom make for black men and women, as agricultural and domestic laborers, circa 1865-1915?

Reading Response #3 - due Wednesday, Feb. 12

This question is based on this week's Toolkit reading by Herbert Gutman (Ch. 9, "Let Not Man Put Asunder," in The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750-1925) and last week's reading from All God's Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw.

What is Gutman's thesis? What sort of evidence does he offer in support of his thesis? Does Nate Shaw's autobiography, which includes lengthy discourses on black family life after slavery, support or undermine Gutman's thesis? Be specific.

Reading Response #4 - due Wednesday, Feb. 19

This week's question is based on the following excerpt from Richard Wright's Black Boy (p. 100):

"At the age of twelve, before I had had one full year of formal schooling, I had a conception of life that no experience would ever erase, a predilection for what was real that no argument could ever gainsay, a sense of the world that was mine and mine alone; a notion as to what life meant that no education could ever alter."

What sorts of lessons did Wright learn outside of formal schooling? Be sure to cite specific examples from the book. You may want to refer to Litwack's Ch. 2 ("Lessons") and Nate Shaw's autobiography as well.

Please note: This question will help prepare you for the short writing assignment, "Coming of Age in the Jim Crow Era," details TBA after Spring Break.

Reading Response # 5 - due Wednesday, Feb. 25

Your assignment is to read and analyze a local newspaper account of a near-lynching in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 1917. Situate the case within a larger historical context. What was the alleged crime? Who were the various players involved? What positions did they take, relative to one another, on questions of law, order, and morality? How does this case relate to the discussions of lynching in Litwack's Ch. 6 ("Hellhounds") and Monday's lecture? Be attentive to issues of locality, region, gender, and class.

The document is available at the following address:


Back to AAS-HIUS 366 Syllabus

Back to AAS-HIUS 366 Home