History 497M: Researching the British Empire

Prof. Jeffrey Auerbach
Tuesdays, 4:20-6:50 p.m.
Sierra Hall 288

Description: This research seminar will focus on Henry Stanley’s magisterial Through the Dark Continent (1878), the gripping account of the explorer’s epic crossing of Africa from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic between 1874-7, which the entire class will read together during the first month of the semester.  Students will then spend the remainder of the semester, under the guidance of the instructor, producing a research paper of approximately 15 pages on a topic related to Stanley’s account or European exploration more generally.  Possible research topics include:  relations with local tribes, logistics such as supplies and porters, diseases and medicine, popular support for and opposition to Stanley’s exploits, Stanley’s reception in Britain and/or America, female explorers, the motivations and backgrounds of explorers, the funding of expeditions, visual imagery, the role of religion, the African background to exploration, and the impact on Africa.

Assignments:

Schedule of Meetings:
January 29 Introduction
February 5 Stanley, Through the Dark Continent, Vol. I, to p. 92 (skip pp. 7-21)
First Worksheet Due
February 12 Stanley, Through the Dark Continent, Vol. I, pp. 93-270
February 19 Stanley, Through the Dark Continent, Vol. I, pp. 299-400
Patrick Brantlinger, "Victorians and Africans: The Genealogy of the Myth of the Dark Continent"
Second Worksheet Due
February 26 Library Visit
Tentative Topic Due
March 5 Stanley, Through the Dark Continent, Vol. II, to p. 152
Refined Topic and Preliminary Bibliography Due
March 12 Stanley, Through the Dark Continent, Vol. II, pp. 153-282
March 19 Stanley, Through the Dark Continent, Vol. II, pp. 283-374 (skip pp. 302-8)
Felix Driver, "Henry Morton Stanley and His Critics: Geography, Exploration, and Empire
Third Worksheet Due
March 26 Spring Break - No Class
April 2 Library Research / Individual Meetings
April 9 Library Research / Individual Meetings
April 16 Film: "Mountains of the Moon"
Prospectus Due
April 23 Library Research / Individual Meetings
April 30 Presentations
First Draft of Research Paper Due
May 7 Presentations
May 14 Presentations
May 20 Final Draft of Research Paper Due