The Transatlantic Slave Trade: A Three-Part Course with Dr. Richard Bell

The Transatlantic Slave Trade: A Three-Part Course with Dr. Richard Bell


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Can't make this time? A video recording will be sent to all participants after the seminar.

In three lectures, Dr. Richard Bell, a University of Maryland Professor and published author, will guide us through the rise of the transatlantic slave trade in the British Empire, fighting the slave trade in Africa and the struggles endured on the Middle Passage.

From a trickle in the early 15th century to a flood four hundred years later, the transatlantic slave trade was the largest forced migration in human history. In all, more than 12 million African men, women, and children were kidnapped, enslaved and made to board European ships destined for the New World.

This new international slave trade was demand-driven and was buoyed by the creation of vast new cash crop economies in the Americas. But until the end of the 16th Century, England had no New World colonies of its own and languished on the sidelines of this booming transatlantic economy. That all changed in the 1560s when an Englishman named John Hawkins led three slaving voyages to the west coast of Africa. Two hundred years later, the British controlled most of the transatlantic slave trade, and had long since perfected this evil enterprise, transporting ever larger numbers of once free Africans to new lives and labors on American plantations.

This three-part course explores the rise of the transatlantic slave trade—but from an unfamiliar perspective. After a stage-setting first lecture examining Hawkins’ rollercoaster career and the rise of the Royal African Company in the decades after his death, lectures two and three turn this history upside down, focusing in upon the varieties of resistance to the transatlantic slave trade mounted by Africans in Africa (lecture two) and on the great ocean-going slave ships that served as floating prisons (lecture three). The lectures are weekly on Wednesdays at 5pm EDT.

Lecture 1: The Rise of Slave Trading in the British Empire Beginning with the three voyages of John Hawkins in the 1560s, this lecture tracks the rise of the British Slave Trade. Relying on royal patronage, British traders would ultimately ship more enslaved Africans to the New World than any other European nation before 1807. 

Lecture 2: Fighting the Slave Trade in Africa This lecture examines varieties of resistance to the Transatlantic Slave Trade within Africa, before any African captives ever boarded the great prison hulks that would carry them across the Atlantic. It argues that local resistance could be pre-emptive, defensive, or offensive, and defines and illustrates each term. 

Lecture 3: Fighting Slavery on the Middle Passage This lecture explores what it looks like for Africans to fight slavery on the Middle Passage. We go beyond statistics to examine all sorts of acts of resistance, from individual acts like refusing to eat to violent shipboard revolts that pitted slaves against sailors. 

How does it work? 
This is a three-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?
There are no required readings, but there are some recommended titles. See above.

How long are the lectures? 
Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How long is the course?
The course is 3 weeks long, with one lecture each week.

How much is the course?
The course is $105 for 3 lectures.

Is a recording available?
In general, our courses are not recorded. However, if you need to miss a lecture please let us know in advance and we can arrange for a recording for that session on an individual basis.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 48 reviews
92%
(44)
4%
(2)
0%
(0)
2%
(1)
2%
(1)
V
Vivienne (San Diego, US)
Fascinating and essential course

If you agree that American has to original sins, one being the treatment of native peoples and the other being slavery, then this course is essential to understanding the roots of the latter for the expanding British Empire, for the founding and success of America's economy, and for the legacy of massive disruption and decline of West African societies, economies, and cultures. Dr. Bell is a brilliant lecturer whose course sessions were riveting, and deeply illuminating. The whole of the three course sessions was even greater than the sum of the brilliant parts.

G
Galena Kathy (Columbus, US)
Hard truths understood and clarified

Dr. Bell’s engaging and enlightening instruction of the transatlantic slave trade, although difficult to confront; brings the context and details to life. This seminar helped me understand so many of my whys not only of our history but of the ramifications that we continue to struggle with today. History comes alive and is deeply thought provoking.

N
New York City customer (New York, US)
Fascinating Course

This course is interesting and Dr. Bell is very engaging. I highly recommend it. I learned a great deal that I didn't know about this disturbing aspect of world history.

B
Barbara Hill (Stroudsburg, US)
A Difficult Topic

The Transatlantic Slave Trade is a difficult topic in our history which Dr. Bell handles with great sensitivity while still presenting the facts. This is a three lecture course, and I am looking forward to the next two lectures. I also want to note that Dr. Bell encourages everyone to participate when he asks discussion questions. It makes the whole lecture experience more interesting.

A
Arlene Sheskin (Chicago, US)
International slave trade

Fabulous! Dr. Bell brings it all to life. He is a wonderful lecturer - very well informed and thought provoking.

Customer Reviews

Based on 48 reviews
92%
(44)
4%
(2)
0%
(0)
2%
(1)
2%
(1)
V
Vivienne (San Diego, US)
Fascinating and essential course

If you agree that American has to original sins, one being the treatment of native peoples and the other being slavery, then this course is essential to understanding the roots of the latter for the expanding British Empire, for the founding and success of America's economy, and for the legacy of massive disruption and decline of West African societies, economies, and cultures. Dr. Bell is a brilliant lecturer whose course sessions were riveting, and deeply illuminating. The whole of the three course sessions was even greater than the sum of the brilliant parts.

G
Galena Kathy (Columbus, US)
Hard truths understood and clarified

Dr. Bell’s engaging and enlightening instruction of the transatlantic slave trade, although difficult to confront; brings the context and details to life. This seminar helped me understand so many of my whys not only of our history but of the ramifications that we continue to struggle with today. History comes alive and is deeply thought provoking.

N
New York City customer (New York, US)
Fascinating Course

This course is interesting and Dr. Bell is very engaging. I highly recommend it. I learned a great deal that I didn't know about this disturbing aspect of world history.

B
Barbara Hill (Stroudsburg, US)
A Difficult Topic

The Transatlantic Slave Trade is a difficult topic in our history which Dr. Bell handles with great sensitivity while still presenting the facts. This is a three lecture course, and I am looking forward to the next two lectures. I also want to note that Dr. Bell encourages everyone to participate when he asks discussion questions. It makes the whole lecture experience more interesting.

A
Arlene Sheskin (Chicago, US)
International slave trade

Fabulous! Dr. Bell brings it all to life. He is a wonderful lecturer - very well informed and thought provoking.