American Slavery Since Abolition (1865-to the present) (HIC2006)

StaffDr Kristofer Allerfeldt - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module will investigate a wide range of topics. It will look into the nature of US slavery scrutinising such manifestations as the Prison Industrial Complex; the sex trade, wage slavery and coolie labour. Close comparisons will be made with plantation slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade to encourage an understanding of the changing nature of slavery. It will look at how slavery is fostered by immigration legislation and sexual and economic inequality. It will examine how and where abolition legislation has succeeded or failed – and why. It will pay particular attention to ties between crime and slavery, examining in some detail issues of agency and coercion. All these will be investigated in their historical context with close attention to the historiography, as well as with reference to the problem today.

The module will use his ties with a network of current activists, especially legislators, law-enforcers and modern abolitionists. It is intended to offer students an opportunity to understand, first hand, the problems and issues involved in drafting assessing and enforcing legislation on such a complex topic

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. To gain a good knowledge of the history of US slavery, before and after 1865
  • 2. To be gain the ability to argue why slavery continued after abolition, and what measures have been taken to control/eliminate it

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Formulate appropriate questions relating to a body of source material and utilize that material to answer these questions
  • 4. Evaluate critically the reasoning of discourses current in the period under study

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Combine independent, autonomous study with the ability to work collaboratively
  • 6. With minimum guidance, digest, select and synthesise evidence and arguments to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument

Syllabus plan

The module will have a spine of eleven lectures. These essentially address broad topics in a thematic structure. These will be - 1. Defining slavery; 2 The US abolitionist movement; 3 Race and slavery; 4 The wage slave; 5 The sex slave; 6 Immigration and slavery; 7 Slave traders; 8 Slave narratives in fiction and fact; 9 Slavery and the caste system; 10 American slavery in a world context; 11 The historiography of post-abolition US slavery

Each of these topics will be expanded in eleven seminars that will run concurrently with the weeks theme. Students will be given questions on ELE to address and on which to present in small groups developing ideas put forward in that week’s lecture.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Lecture1 Hour: 11 Weeks11 Thematic Lectures
Seminar1 Hour: 11 WeeksPrepared discussion questions given on ELE to be presented and debated in seminar groups

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Weekly Seminar Questions Answered in Groups10 Minutes1-6Discussion with Peers and Module Convenor

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay1002,000 words1-5Written comments and verbal feedback on request

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay 2000wEssay 2000 words1-5Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Kevin Bales, Disposable People (Berkeley, 1999)

Douglas Blackmon, Slavery By Another Name (New York, 2008)

Pete Daniel, The Shadow Of Slavery (Urbana, 1972)

Julia O’Connell Davidson, Modern Slavery (London, 2015)

Joel Quirk, The Anti-Slavery Project (Philadelphia, 2011)

Gretchen Soderlund, Sex Trafficking, Scandal and the Transformation of Journalism 1885-1917 (Chicago, 2013)

Phil Williams (ed.), Illegal Immigration and Commercial Sex (London, 1999)

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

ELE – College to provide hyperlink to appropriate pages

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Key words search

Slavery, USA, 1865-2017, Human Trafficking, Prisons, Coolies, Race, Sex Trafficking, Abolition, Immigration Control