Fall, 1999
Internet course
Bob Corbett



The past shapes the future. To come to better know and understand a present one must not just know something of the past, but one needs to know how that past shaped and created the present.

This exploration of the 200 year history of Haiti will follow the principle above. Beginning with the pre-Columbian Arawak/Taino Indians and following the Spanish occupation of Hispaniola, the influence of pirates, and the French colonial period, we will wend out way to the founding of Haiti in 1804. From there we will focus on Haitian influences on its own future. However, there is a significant part played by the international community in Haiti's history and present. We will study that as well.

Finally we will take some time away from a straight historical analysis to get some better understanding of the art, culture, religion, family life and other aspects of the reality of Haiti.

This is a first introduction to Haiti. We can't do it all, and to even touch on the topics above in 16 weeks means that everything gets introduced and little gets resolved or studied in depth. Such is the strength and weakness of introductory courses.

This is a 100% on-line course. Non-Webster University students may take the course for credit which can be transferred back to your home university. To learn more about how to register, please contact Bob Chamberlain at Webster University:


For general information see Webster University's homepage. http://www.webster.edu.   I would caution all non-Webster students to be sure that you have secured the WRITTEN permission of your home university to have this course transferred back to your records. Most universities have such a form than one can fill out to take courses at a different institution.

How will this on-line course work?

I have been doing on-line courses for the past four years and they are very different from in-class courses. The student is required to participate more in my on-line courses. In the classroom I often rely on attendance and responses, either verbal from a few, or even facial expressions and seeming interest and so forth to guide me. Additionally, in courses which I'm teaching in the class and on-campus, I run into students outside class, especially immediately before or after class, and often get feedback in these moments about where the student is, or how the course is going. In the on-line courses I am limited exclusively to your e-mail communications.

On-line I never see the student, thus I need the student's constant participation and feed back.

This particular course focuses on about 14 "issues" in Haitian history, and I will devote an entire week to each issue. There are a few hundred essays in Haitian history and culture, covering all the topics on my Haiti page. My web site will be our primary text, though no student will be required to read all the essays by any means. In addition to my own web page's essays, we will use the book LIBERTE. More about that in the first week's work.

For each week there will be:

  1. For each week there will be one central essay required of each student which picks a topic from the readings and reflects significantly on it.

  2. Each week each student will be expected to develop and present one major "puzzle" in relation to the required readings. Other students will be expected to respond to this puzzle.

  3. There will be two papers.

  4. Lastly, there will be one open topic post required each week in which the student responds to the writings of another student, or to that of the instructor.

All writing done in the course will be communicated by e-mail, but some of the material will also be posted on my web site. If for any reason a student wishes not to have his or her writings made public in this manner we can discuss it, but it is a primary expectation of the course and the manner in which class discussion is carried on.

I would like to hear from any of you who might have questions about the mode of running the course. In general I will assign readings and make some general comments (lecture-like) on the particular theme of the week. Then people will begin their responding, and we will go forward responding to one another. It is expected that students will do the assigned reading for the course, and writing, and to read the posts from other students, which are sent out to all.

Bob Corbett


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