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Ethyle R. Wolfe Institute for the Humanities 2023-24: Faculty & Staff Reading Group

About the Faculty & Staff Reading Group

This year the Ethyle R. Wolfe Institute for the Humanities Faculty and Staff Reading Group will focus on 2023-24 Hess Scholar Paul Ortiz’s groundbreaking An African American and Latinx History of the United States (2018). At a time in this country where teaching these very histories is under attack, it is particularly urgent to read, learn and discuss these histories. Questions and themes we will consider: 

  • How does the book help us to fill in gaps in our own knowledge of US history and politics and what do those gaps reveal?
  • What does it show us about the overlapping experiences and histories of African American and Latinx people and Afro-Latinx people?  What does it show us about the differences in histories? And what changes when we consider both of these?
  • How does it challenge efforts to decolonize the college's curriculum? What specific ways might we change our own syllabi or the college's course offerings? 
  • Given the attack on teaching Black history and ethnic studies, what does it show us about the longstanding nature and history of such attacks and the political, social and economic forces at play?  
  • An African American and Latinx History disrupts the silos we often have between US history & politics and the rest of the Americas, between US domestic policy and US foreign policy?  How is Ortiz demonstrating the need to see historical moments and domestic political events in light of broader colonial histories, to see the political economy of white supremacy across the Americas?  What changes when we do?   

The group will meet online at 4:00PM on the following Mondays: September 18, October 23 and November 20.

Reading Guide:

September 18: 
Paul Ortiz, An African American and Latinx History of the United States, Author's Note, Introduction and Chapters One and Two, pp. ix-53

October 23: 
Paul Ortiz, An African American and Latinx History of the United States, Chapters 6, 7, 8 and Epilogue, pp. 118-189

November 20:
Paul Ortiz joins the reading group!

Paul Ortiz, "Making History Matter," Kalfou 3:1 (2016), pp. 125-144

Robin. D. G. Kelley, "On Racial Justice, Black History, Critical Race Theory, and other Felonious Ideas," in Our History Has Been Contraband: In Defense of Black Studies, eds. Colin Kaepernick, Robin D. G. Kelley, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (Haymarket, 2023).

Report of the Presidential Task Force on African American and Native American History and the University of Florida


Making History Matter by Paul Ortiz
in Kalfou 3:1 (2016), pp. 125-144.