The content from the syllabus for ENGL 331H - American Literature, 1830-1860 follows. The course, American Canon and Arabic Slave Writings, was taught by Professor Jeffrey Einboden in spring 2012.
Exploring the literary foundations of early America, ENGL 331 has traditionally surveyed the nation’s most iconic authors. During Spring 2012, our course evolves and expands, highlighting a pivotal, yet largely unrecognized, element of U.S. Literature: personal writings by African slaves of Muslim descent, composed during their captivity in America, and authored in Arabic.
Supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities Teaching Development Fellowship, ENGL 331H will be unique in aligning canonical writers (Washington Irving, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allan Poe), with Muslim Slave authors (Ibrahim ‘Abd ar-Rahman, ‘Umar ibn Sayyid, Ben 'Ali). Discovering the cross-cultural, multi-lingual, and inter-religious contours of America’s first decades, our course will also be distinctive in paying close attention to manuscripts and archives, privileging informal sources such as journals, correspondence and marginalia.
Study page 75 of Allan D. Austin’s African Muslims in Antebellum America (1997) – a manuscript containing “The Lord’s Prayer” as transcribed by Ibrāhīm ‘Abd ar-Raḥmān.
i) First, read the English handwriting that comprises the bottom half of this manuscript, and which describes the “foregoing” Arabic as a “copy of The Lord’s Prayer”.
ii) Second, consult my translation of the Arabic (handout).
As you read Ala Alryyes’ translation of Ibn Sayyid’s Autobiography (2011; pgs. 47-79) consider the following, broad questions:
Review Ala Alryyes’ translation of Ibn Sayyid’s Autobiography (2011; pgs. 47-79) in light of our February 9 discussion.
After reviewing Ala Alryyes’ 2011 translation of the Autobiography, read the 19th-century translation produced by Isaac Bird (pgs. 87-92).
Before reading the English translation of Ibn Sayyid’s Arabic Letter (i.e. pages 198-201), study the manuscript as it is reproduced on pages 196-197.
After reading the English translation (i.e. pages 198-201), consider:
Go to www.niu.edu/arabicslavewritings and click on the Davidson Marginalia tab – a webpage that features inscriptions which Ibn Sayyid wrote in the margins of his Arabic Bible.
Read my brief introduction to these Marginalia, and study Examples 1 through 5.
Go to www.niu.edu/arabicslavewritings and click on the Spartanburg Manuscript tab – a webpage that features an unpublished Arabic letter authored by ‘Umar ibn Sayyid.
Read my brief introduction to this “Letter”; study its manuscript pages (i.e. Page Right, Page Left); and read my English translation of these two pages.
As you study the “Letter”, consider the following:
Read pages 80-82 of Allan D. Austin’s African Muslims in Antebellum America (1997), containing the Autobiography of Ibrāhīm ‘Abd ar-Raḥmān.
After reading these pages, consider:
Read Chapter XII of The Kentuckian in New-York – an 1834 novel by the Virginian writer, William A. Caruthers, recounting the “adventures” of “three southerns”. Chapter XII comprises a letter from Beverley Randolph to Victor Chevillere, detailing Randolph’s travels through Georgia and South Carolina.
After reading the entire chapter carefully, consider the following: