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

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


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

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00Lecture: anticipated PiP or otherwise if necessary.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion661:0066:00Preparation for end of module long essay; ongoing weekly.
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.

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.

Reading Lists