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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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 53 reviews
92%
(49)
4%
(2)
0%
(0)
2%
(1)
2%
(1)
S
Sandra S -- Boston (Saugus, US)
Final Seminar in 3-part Series: Slave Resistence en Route to the Americas

This last seminar in the series brought listeners along the awful, inhumane journey on the slave trading ships to their destinations. Nitty-gritty details were related with even a film quip to make it real to viewers. The revolt actions by the brave mutineers were described, the attempts to end their suffering (suicide, drowning, hunger strikes) were related, and the likely outcome to these actions rounded out the presentation. This entire series was information unknown to me in detail and will impact my thoughts and feelings about slavery from now on.

S
Sandra S -- Boston (Saugus, US)
Continuing Seminar in Series: On to the Story of Resistence in Africa

This second seminar in the 3-part series took a different direction with the comprehensive examination of the origins of the transatlantic trade in 1700s followed by the strategies attempted at resistance to capture and transport across the ocean. Dr Bell encouraged listener interaction to discuss the strategies (pre-emptive, defensive, offensive). This framework was successful in presenting the many factors, actions, and outcomes to the resistance endeavors. Opened my eyes to this travesty so much more. Well-done.

R
R.K. (Cary, US)
Love Dr. Bell

Dr. Bell's courses are filled with interesting tidbits. He is a very engaging professor. One day, I would like to take a trip with him. Thank you Dr. Bell for sharing your talents with those not in college!

D
Denise (Catonsville, US)

I appreciate Dr. Bell's story telling skills and the focus on the context in which events occurred to help me remember important points. His slides are not overwhelming and reinforce his message. Great teacher.

S
Sandra S -- Boston (Saugus, US)
Succinct Seminar: Part 1 of 3 on Transatlantic Slave Trade: Beginnings

This session related the background history about how the transatlantic slave trade began: via slave traders in Africa who provided the workforce for sugar mills on islands off that coast and then in the Caribbean. Dr Bell described how this then led to the slave voyages to America. I learned many new facts -- e.g., how the English crown was involved in this, the monopoly in place for this and its downfall, then the start of forced migration that was massive to America's shores. So interesting. And, the speaker is so adept at engendering listener participation on Zoom. This laid the ground work for the next 2 sessions of the series.

Customer Reviews

Based on 53 reviews
92%
(49)
4%
(2)
0%
(0)
2%
(1)
2%
(1)
S
Sandra S -- Boston (Saugus, US)
Final Seminar in 3-part Series: Slave Resistence en Route to the Americas

This last seminar in the series brought listeners along the awful, inhumane journey on the slave trading ships to their destinations. Nitty-gritty details were related with even a film quip to make it real to viewers. The revolt actions by the brave mutineers were described, the attempts to end their suffering (suicide, drowning, hunger strikes) were related, and the likely outcome to these actions rounded out the presentation. This entire series was information unknown to me in detail and will impact my thoughts and feelings about slavery from now on.

S
Sandra S -- Boston (Saugus, US)
Continuing Seminar in Series: On to the Story of Resistence in Africa

This second seminar in the 3-part series took a different direction with the comprehensive examination of the origins of the transatlantic trade in 1700s followed by the strategies attempted at resistance to capture and transport across the ocean. Dr Bell encouraged listener interaction to discuss the strategies (pre-emptive, defensive, offensive). This framework was successful in presenting the many factors, actions, and outcomes to the resistance endeavors. Opened my eyes to this travesty so much more. Well-done.

R
R.K. (Cary, US)
Love Dr. Bell

Dr. Bell's courses are filled with interesting tidbits. He is a very engaging professor. One day, I would like to take a trip with him. Thank you Dr. Bell for sharing your talents with those not in college!

D
Denise (Catonsville, US)

I appreciate Dr. Bell's story telling skills and the focus on the context in which events occurred to help me remember important points. His slides are not overwhelming and reinforce his message. Great teacher.

S
Sandra S -- Boston (Saugus, US)
Succinct Seminar: Part 1 of 3 on Transatlantic Slave Trade: Beginnings

This session related the background history about how the transatlantic slave trade began: via slave traders in Africa who provided the workforce for sugar mills on islands off that coast and then in the Caribbean. Dr Bell described how this then led to the slave voyages to America. I learned many new facts -- e.g., how the English crown was involved in this, the monopoly in place for this and its downfall, then the start of forced migration that was massive to America's shores. So interesting. And, the speaker is so adept at engendering listener participation on Zoom. This laid the ground work for the next 2 sessions of the series.