Nelson Higher Education

Higher Education


Frederick Douglass, Slavery, and the Constitution, 1845

  • Mark Higbee
  • James Brewer Stewart
  • ISBN-10: 0393680630
  • ISBN-13: 9780393680638
  • 0 Pages | Paperback
  • COPYRIGHT: 2019 Published
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About the Product

Reacting to the Past is an award-winning series of immersive role-playing games that actively engage students in their own learning. Students assume the roles of historical characters to practice critical thinking, primary source analysis, and both written and spoken argument. Reacting games are flexible enough to be used across the curriculum, from first-year general education classes and discussion sections of lecture classes to capstone experiences and honors programs. Frederick Douglass asks students to confront an explosive question: How, in a nation founded on ideas of equal rights and freedom, could the institution of slavery become so entrenched and long-lasting? How was slavery justified, and how was it criticized? At a literary forum, students consider the newly-published Narrative of Frederick Douglass and hold a hearing on John C. Calhoun’s view of slavery as a “positive good.” Finally, players address the US Constitution, its original protections of the slaveholders’ power, and the central question: Are Americans more beholden to the Constitution, or to some “higher law”?


  • MAKES HISTORY COME ALIVE Students participate in active learning when they are part of the game. Each student receives a game book, outlining the historical context, game premise, central debates, rules, and readings. Students then assume roles in a game of strategy they will want to win. They must adhere to the worldview of their historical figure, but are not limited by a script. They must express their ideas compellingly in speeches, presentations, and more.

  • GAMES MADE EASY With clear organization and helpful instructor resources, playing the game is easy. Each Norton-original game book has a clear five-part structure. This organization brings a much-demanded consistency to the series and makes it easy for instructors to teach multiple titles in succession. The Gamemaster’s Materials required to run each game are similarly helpful and well-organized.

  • A PROVEN APPROACH, SUPPORTED BY A NATIONAL NETWORK When playing Reacting to the Past games students develop history skills like primary source analysis, public speaking, writing and argument, critical thinking, problem solving, and leadership. For this innovative approach, the series has been supported by the Teagle Foundation and the US Department of Education. The series was developed at Barnard College. The Reacting Consortium is a national network of enthusiastic instructors who connect through regular conferences and on social media.