Module Catalogue 2022/23

HIS2315 : Violence in the American South: From Enslavement to Civil Rights

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Susan-Mary Grant
  • Lecturer: Dr Ellie Armon Azoulay, Professor Bruce Baker
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module seeks to introduce students to the central roles that violence (and nonviolence) played in the social and political history of the American South during the course of and since the American Civil War (1861-1865).

The American South is an unusual region in many ways, not least because of its perceived (and actual) relationship with violence. On the one hand, observers going back to the antebellum period noted that the South was exceptionally violent, a situation clearly based on the region’s dependence on slavery and later continued in the form of lynching. On the other hand, during the civil rights movement, a fusion of black Christianity with Ghandian principles showed the power of nonviolent direct action to overturn the segregated order. And those developments were in constant tension with African Americans who insisted that armed self-defence was necessary to answer unrelenting white racial violence.

This module places the American South and its violent history in the larger context of violence in America from the nation's inception to the present day. It revolves around three main focal themes/subjects:

1. Race and violence

2. White society and violence

3. The opposition to violence

Outline Of Syllabus

The following are some of the central topics included in lectures and non-synchronous materials:

•       Introduction to the Histories of Violence and Nonviolence in the United States

•       The Antebellum South: A Culture of Honour, Violence, and Slavery
•       Violence on the Plantation

•       Resisting Violence: Rebellion and Running Away

•       Violence During the Civil War and Reconstruction

•       Guerrilla Warfare and Extra-Legal Violence

•       Post-War Violence: Legal Codes and Lynching

•       Reconstruction: Riots, Pogroms, and Feuds

•       Labour Violence

•       The Anti-Lynching Movement

•       Ghandian Antecedents

•       Intellectual and Social Origins of Nonviolence

•       Armed Self-Defence in the South

•       Memories of Lynching and Nonviolence

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Students who complete this module will gain a broader understanding of the dynamic between violence and nonviolence as modes for social change and political contestation in societies in general, but with a special emphasis on the American South in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. By studying violence and nonviolence together, they will develop a deeper understanding than by looking at the topics separately. The conjoining will permit them to understand how societies perpetuate and challenge social control through these modes and how the dichotomy of violence and nonviolence masks a spectrum of choices as part of both black and white resistance to racism and racial change. As a result, you will:

1. Be able to recognise and recall the institutional features of the historical contexts relating to violence in the US South, and be able to place the individual case studies we look at (slavery; the Civil War; border conflict; lynching; labour violence; civil rights and non-violence) in the context of Southern History as a whole.

2. Be able to identify and explain the social, political, legal, and cultural processes at work in the period investigated in this module; namely the 19th and 20th centuries.

3. Be able to demonstrate an advanced awareness of how to appraise and productively compare different forms of evidence for the topics within the module's ambit.

4. Be able to illustrate a developing cultural awareness in communicating your views about the diverse black and white, enslaved and free worlds encountered in the module.

Intended Skill Outcomes

1. The development of associated skills in research, critical reading and reasoning, sustained discussion and appropriate presentation of the results.

2. You will be encouraged to develop a range of transferable skills which can be applied to other periods of history and other spheres of intellectual activity, including aural comprehension and note taking, the ability to follow an argument and prioritise and select material, to read and to reason critically and to participate in discussion. Students should also be able to evaluate different kinds of sources, both primary and secondary (including visual and numerical material).

3. You will be expected to investigate and evaluate historical topics both collectively (in seminars and on Canvas) and individually (in class preparation and in assessment-related work).

4. You will also be expected to demonstrate a greater competence communicating complex ideas verbally (in seminars) and in written form (via the module's assessment essay).

5. In addition the module is intended to help students understand the relationship between social structures, culture, the economy, activism, and historical change in a way that is applicable to other historical contexts.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion661:0066:00Preparation for end of module long essay; ongoing weekly.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00Lecture: anticipated PiP or otherwise if necessary.
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:0011:00Asynchronous support materials (document analysis Etc). Part of student contact hours.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading661:0066:00Seminar preparation: ongoing weekly.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Seminars: anticipated PiP.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study351:0035:00General consolidation activities; drop-in sessions etc.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

1. Lectures impart core knowledge and an outline for further knowledge acquisition by the students themselves. They explain key historical concepts and identify historical debates and points of contention. They introduce a range of source materials and images appropriate to the module, and facilitate the critical appreciation of such sources.

4. SEMINARS encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral presentation, interpersonal communication, problem-solving skills, research skills and adaptability.

5. LECTURE MATERIALS (under Structured Guided Learning): Documentary Analyses to aid students in working through and using primary material. They introduce and take students through either an individual primary document or a particular source collection to enhance research skills. The material analyzed will come into seminar dicussion(s), when students are expected to assess the extent to which the historiography (book or article(s)) is supported or contradicted by the primary documents looked at.

Note: in the event that on-campus sessions need to be reduced, the module has a built-in capacity to present recorded lectures asynchronously online and operate via seminar discussion, also on-line via Zoom.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A602500 words. Marking online.
Research paper1M401000 words. Primary source research paper. Marking online
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Poster1MPoster assessment of essay structure/topic and its links with research project. 500 words. Marking online.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

1. Work submitted during the delivery of the module (see FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT below, and first piece of SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT) forms a means of determining the student’s progress.

2. SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT tests knowledge outcomes and develops skills in research and reading.

3. FORMATIVE ASSESSMEMENT: is designed to initiate ideas for comparative analysis in preparation for the first piece of summative assessment (the research paper). It takes the form of a poster, and feedback is provided.
The essay assignment for HIS2315 has been designed to aid the students in developing skills that will be essential in this module but also at Stage 3 in HIS3020.


1. The poster is designed to construct some initial links between the essay question and the research paper, and will be a visual summary of the state of the thesis at the mid-way point of the module, enabling important feedback/suggestions/corrections to be made mid-module. It should also include some visual materials.

2. The research paper will aid students in handling original material and deploying this successfully in the end of module essay.

3. The summative essay questions will be handed out at the start, so that students may work on their selected topic weekly throughout the module. It will be comparative across chronological time and themes, and will have components relating to both violence and nonviolence. It will assesses the student’s understanding of the key themes and ideas in the module, the ability to research around a topic, and the capability of building a sustained argument, supporting it with evidence, and expressing it clearly.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. Where an exam is present, an alternative form of assessment will be set and where coursework is present, an alternative deadline will be set. Details of the alternative assessment will be provided by the module leader.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2022/23 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2023/24 entry will be published here in early-April 2023. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.