F20 Black Atlantic: Resources, Pedagogy, and Scholarship on the 18th Century Black Atlantic

Pondering an Interactive Visualization for C.L.R. James's The Black Jacobins

C.L.R. James’s The Black Jacobins explores the Haitian Revolution in the forefront of the French Revolution and in this way, we are able to see the parallels between the two uprisings and the participants’ responses on both sides to violation of rights, government corruption, etc. We are also able to see the influence of French writings on the key characters in the Haitian revolution such as Toussaint L’Ouverture drawing inspiration from Guillaume Thomas François Raynal’s Philosophical and Political History of the Establishments and Commerce of the Europeans in the Two Indies. James bounces between key dates in both revolutions. While this back and forth is a stylistic highlight that adds interest to a subject about which we might already know, I believe the connections between the two revolutions could be further explored through a simplified chronological timeline. The information in the book could benefit from the creation of an interactive visualization which allows the viewer to travel through the sequence of events (shown through the specific dates and events that James chooses to include) of the revolution at San Domingo. Each entry on the timeline would include an excerpt from the book as well as additional historical information, if needed. This suggestion is not to criticize the original organization of the text. The headings under which James organizes his work serve a purpose and push this book past just a regurgitation of facts into the territory of a truly artistic piece. That being said, organizing James’s references by date might yield even more lucrative connections between events of the Haitian Revolution and between the Haitian Revolution and the French Revolution.
            If I am on the right track, this could be a possible project for the final. Using a program such as TimeMapper, I could reorganize James’s text into an interactive timeline. In my brief research on the subject, I found timelines on the Haitian Revolution and I even found timelines that draw connections between the Haitian and French Revolutions, but I could not find one which extensively incorporates James’s text. This is an element which I feel could make my timeline not only a great resource for education on the Haitian Revolution, but also a great pairing for the original James text.

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