African American History (HIH2171)

StaffDr Matthias Reiss - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module will examine the history of people of African descent in the United States from colonial times to the present. The aim is to show how the issue of race has dominated and shaped American society and American politics from the very beginning, and how, as the debate over financial compensation for the descendents of slaves shows, it still has the potential to cause controversy. The module will trace the effects of the 'American dilemma', meaning the co-existence of liberal values and racist practice, and highlight, among other things, the role of African Americans in resisting and overcoming their subordinate status.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Ability to identify and evaluate the main themes, events and personalities in African American history from colonial times to the present, as well as an understanding of how race is constructed and used throughout American history.
  • 2. Ability to collate information upon and evaluate in greater detail those aspects of the module discussed in seminars, and especially those topics selected by the students for their essays.
  • 3. Ability to trace the development of the African American community during the period specified.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Ability to analyse the key developments within a specific historical period and theme.
  • 5. Ability to collate data from a range of sources.
  • 6. Ability to trace long-term as well as short-term historical developments.
  • 7. Ability to understand and deploy historical terminology in a comprehensible manner.
  • 8. Ability to handle different approaches to history in areas of controversy. Ability to work with primary sources under direction from the module tutor.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 9. Independent study and group work, including participating in oral discussions.
  • 10. Ability to digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment.

Syllabus plan

This module will examine topics such as the Atlantic slave trade; slavery and freedom during the American Revolution; the rise of King Cotton and plantation life in the South; slavery, slave resistance and the abolitionists; the Civil War and the end of slavery; reconstruction and the introduction of Jim Crow; the First World War, the Great Migration; the Harlem Renaissance; the Second World War and the Double-V Campaign; the post-war Civil Rights Movement and desegregation; the Black Power movement; Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam; and the demand for compensation for slavery.

The lectures will be invaluable as a spine through which all can be brought to a similar level of knowledge, and through which ideas and controversies can be transmitted. The seminars will focus on particular aspects of the module, with a view to offering a fuller understanding than can be delivered through lectures, allowing the students to develop their skills and knowledge more fully. Students will be expected to prepare for these seminars in advance.

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 activities22Lectures (22x1hr)
Scheduled learning and teaching activities11Seminars (11x1hr)
Guided independent study267Independent study

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
Better of two essay marks333000 wordmark and written comments
Exam672 hourProvided on request by module tutor

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Franklin, John Hope, and Alfred A. Moss, Jr., From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans (8th ed., New York, 2000). Hine, Darlene Clark, William C. Hine, and Stanley Harrold, The African-American Odyssey (4th ed., Upper Saddle River, N.J., 2007). Holt, Thomas C. (ed.), Major Problems in African-American History, 2 vols. (Boston, 2000). Kelley, Robin D.G., and Earl Lewis (eds.), To Make our World Anew, 2 vols. (Oxford, 2005). Woodward, C. Vann, The Strange Career of Jim Crow (3rd rev. ed., New York, 1974). X, Malcolm, The Autobiography of Malcolm X (New York, Ballantine Books Edition, 1993).

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?