American studies

Race and Ethnicity in US History

Module code: V3029E
Level 5
15 credits in autumn semester
Teaching method: Lecture, Seminar
Assessment modes: Computer based exam

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

Lectures and seminars interrogate 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, but female activists and the unsung black masses themselves also receive close attention.

Module learning outcomes

  • Initiate critical analysis of the history of race and ethnicity in the United States.
  • Critically apply knowledge and understanding of the history of race and ethnicity in the United States, including effectively communicating this knowledge in written work.
  • Evaluate key debates in the history of race and ethnicity in the United States, focusing on the second half of the 19th century, and the 20th and 21st centuries.
  • Provide critical commentary on these debates in an informed way in written work.