Skip over navigation

Course Offerings

Course Evaluation Results

Course Details

Fall 2018-2019
* HIS 444 / AMS 444 (HA)   na, npdf

Commodity Histories: From Sugar to Cocaine

Bernadette J. Perez

What is a commodity? What does it do? Can it shape history? This course will introduce students to a recently popular genre of historical writing which concentrates on single commodities like cotton, sugar, bananas, and oil. We will consider how commodity histories offer a unique approach to rethinking the boundaries of history. Our readings will cross conceptual and geographic borders, raising questions about the relationship between the global and the local. Course themes will include: environmental change, imperialism/colonialism, capitalism, slavery, race, identity, consumerism, and the relationship between nation-states and corporations.

Sample reading list:
Karl Marx, Capital: Volume I
Marcy Norton, Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures
Stephanie Smallwood, Saltwater Slavery
Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton
Brenda Child,, My Grandfather's Knocking Sticks
Timothy Mitchell, Carbon Democracy

Reading/Writing assignments:
This course involves around 150 pages of reading per week. Assignments include five short response papers, a take home midterm exam, and a 12-15 page research paper on a commodity of your choosing.

Paper in lieu of Final - 35%
Take Home Mid term Exam - 20%
Papers - 20%
Class/Precept Participation - 25%

Schedule/Classroom assignment:

Class numberSectionTimeDaysRoomEnrollmentStatus
23332 C01 11:00:00 am - 12:20:00 pm T Th   McCosh Hall   26   Enrolled:10 Limit:14