Slavery and Capitalism, Neoliberalism and Feudalism

Next semester, I’ll be teaching American Political Theory (POLS 3404), meeting 9:30-10:45 on Mondays and Wednesdays. We’ll focus on two topics only: slavery and neoliberalism. Registration is now officially open for the class.

During the first half of the course, we’ll be addressing the relationship between slavery and capitalism through a selection of primary and second readings. Our texts will include Orlando Patterson’s Slavery and Social Death, Eric Williams’ Capitalism and Slavery, Cedric Robinson’s Black Marxism, Eugene Genovese’s The Political Economy of Slavery, Frederick Douglass’ Narrative, Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, W.E.B. Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction, and various texts and treatises from the slaveholders, including Thomas Dew, William Harper, James Henry Hammond, Josiah Nott, and John C. Calhoun.

In the second half of the course, we’ll be addressing the relationship between neoliberalism and feudalism, also through a selection of primary and secondary readings. Our texts will include readings from Friedrich Hayek, Gary Becker, Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand, James Buchanan, Melinda Cooper, Elizabeth Anderson, Wendy Brown, Jodi Dean, Silvia Federici, and Nancy Fraser.

The course will be framed by some introductory readings from Marx, Weber, and Ellen Meiksins Wood. As the pairings of capitalism and slavery, and neoliberalism and feudalism, suggest, we’ll be using American political thought as a prism through which we examine whether and how different kinds of social and economic institutions, drawn from different moments in time, can coexist and reinforce each other at the same time.


  1. Ken Rosenberg November 28, 2022 at 12:47 pm | #

    This class sounds great. Will there be any way that folks can audit the class remotely? Or that it can be recorded and seen by people who are not enrolled? (I grew up at Glenwood and E. 17 Street so perhaps I could count as “community”?) Thanks, Ken Rosenberg,

  2. Jon Magee November 28, 2022 at 3:19 pm | #

    Can you share the syllabus with the specific readings? Curious about the Marx/Weber/Meiksins Wood readings, too.

  3. Josef Schneider April 7, 2023 at 1:20 pm | #

    Can you post a reading list?

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