The Three Klans: Ethno-Politics in the 19th and 20th Century US (HIC3303)

StaffDr Kristofer Allerfeldt - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Pre-requisites30 Credits of History at Level 1
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module will investigate the way in which, at their peak, the politics of bigotry could mobilize and inspire millions of Americans to join the Ku Klux Klan. It will encourage critical engagement with themes of race, violence, fraternity and exploitation in an American historical context. This module will examine these elements from an assortment of perspectives, using a vast variety of sources to question how such a seemingly minority organisation can command such political, cultural and social influence in the world’s most affluent democracy.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. To gain an understanding of the emergence, evolution and continuity of this the most iconic and persistent of American hate groups.
  • 2. Students will gain a knowledge of the elements which created the conditions for three manifestations of the Klan – in the 1870s, 1920s and 1960s
  • 3. Evaluate a variety of primary and secondary sources in a field of history dominated by non-academic interpretations

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Formulate appropriate questions relating to a body of source material and utilize that material to answer those questions
  • 5. With minimum guidance, develop and sustain historical arguments in a variety of literary forms, using appropriate terminology
  • 6. Display a command of comparative perspectives
  • 7. Analyse at a close and sophisticated level original sources and assess their reliability as historical evidence
  • 8. Evaluate critically the reasoning of discourses current in the period under study

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 9. Combine independent, autonomous study with the ability to work collaboratively
  • 10. Set tasks independently and solve problems, formulating appropriate questions and marshalling relevant evidence to answer them
  • 11. With minimum guidance, digest, select and synthesise evidence and arguments to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument

Syllabus plan

Overview of the Klan; Civil War and Reconstruction; Pulaski and the Origins of the Klan; Terror in the South; The Klan Defeated; Thomas Dixon and the Birth of a Nation; Leo Frank and Tom Watson; Simmons and Stone Mountain; Modern Marketing; War and Patriotism; Prohibition, Morality and the Klan; Protestants and Catholics; Anti-Radicalism; Women and the Klan; The Klan and Fraternity; Variations on a Theme; Corruption and Implosion; The Klan and the New Deal; Civil Rights; David Duke and Modern Hate; The Klan's Enemies and Allies; The Image of the Klan in Fact and Fiction

The lectures will provide a spine of ideas and information. These will form a basis upon which students can build their own interpretations and explore concepts and issues further in the seminars. The seminar work will comprise (1) discussions of particular topics and sources relating to the subject matter of the module and (2) group presentations on particular topics, developing students’ teamwork and oral skills.

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
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities11Seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities22Lectures
Guided independent study22Film screenings (voluntary)
Guided independent study245Private study and preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar questions150 minutes1, 3, 5, 7-10Peer and Tutor verbal feedback

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
Group seminar presentation 3015 minutes 4, 7-9 and 11 Immediate verbal feedback from peers and tutor
Essay 203,000 words 1-3, 5-6, 8, 10-11 Written comments and verbal feedback on formal submission
Exam50Two questions of two hours 1-3, 5-6, 8 Verbal and written comments

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Group seminar presentation Presentation report4, 7-9 and 11referral/deferral period
Essay 3,000wEssay 3,000w1-3, 5-6, 8, 10-11 referral/deferral period
ExamExam1-3, 5-6, 8referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Chalmers, Hooded Americanism (NY, 1965) Kenneth Jackson, The Ku Klux Klan in the City (Chicago, 1992)

Evelyn Schlatter, Ayran Cowboys (Austin, 2006) Wyn Craig Wade, The Fiery Cross (NY, 1987)


Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Birth of a Nation (1915) directed by DW Griffith The Klansman (1974) directed by Terence Young

Available as distance learning?


Origin date

April 2010

Last revision date

February 2013