American studies

The African American Experience

Module code: V3029
Level 5
15 credits in autumn teaching
Teaching method: Seminar, Lecture
Assessment modes: Coursework, Unseen examination

This module examines the history of African-American political, cultural, and social developments from 1863 to the present.

Its principal goal is to familiarise you with the debates that African Americans have had among themselves between emancipation and the present day, thus establishing a deep historical understanding of the ongoing freedom struggle in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

It assesses intraracial arguments over the relationship of blacks to the US government in war and peace, over racial and class identities, and over diverse tactics and strategies for the advancement of the race.

Although particular attention is given to the longrunning campaign to destroy de jure segregation in the southern states (culminating in the successful nonviolent direct action campaigns of the 1960s), the module is predicated on the demonstrable fact that racial prejudice was a national, not a regional, phenomenon.

Lectures and seminars analyse the connections between African American history and culture. Emphasis is given to well-known black leaders like Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, and Martin Luther King Jr., but female activists and the unsung black masses themselves also receive close attention.

Module learning outcomes

  • Critically apply knowledge and understanding of the position of African Americans in the United States.
  • Evaluate key debates in the history of African Americans, notably on tactics and strategies to destroy segregation in the U.S.South.
  • Provide critical commentary on these debates in an informed way, and articulate such commentary in a collective setting and in small group work.
  • Conduct independent research in preparation for problem-solving in written exercise.