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HIS3348 : Haitian Revolution

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Christina Mobley
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 40 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module investigates the trans-Atlantic history of the African men, women, and children who endured slavery in Saint Domingue, helped win the most successful slave revolution in history – the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) – and founded the first black republic, Haiti. Historians have rightly lauded the Haitian Revolution as the most radical of the Age of Revolutions. By granting freedom and citizenship to all Haitians regardless of skin colour, it represents a crucial moment in the history of the destruction of slavery and the construction of democracy. However, the most radical ideas of the Haitian Revolution remain the least well-known. During and after the Revolution, Africans and their descendants known as “Congos” rejected the European-style political project articulated by certain elites, especially wage labour and private property. Instead, they created a “counter-plantation” system, the lakou, a communal system of land tenure regulated by the public healing institution Vodou. Like their African ancestors, Haitians and practitioners of Haitian Vodou have been subjected to dehumanizing stereotypes, especially in the United States and Europe. This module goes beyond negative tropes to examine the background, process, and consequences of the Haitian Revolution, beginning in Africa.

The aims of this module are:
• To provide an opportunity to develop an understanding of the causes of, process of and outcomes of the Haitian Revolution by reading widely and critically in the primary and secondary literature.
• To develop research skills necessary to uncover the African and enslaved history of the Haitian Revolution.
• To engage with the major historiographical debates on the Age of Revolutions and Slavery in the Atlantic World.
• To encourage students to think about history comparatively and to connect the histories that link societies in Africa, the Americas, and Europe.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will include some or all of the following topics:
•       The African origins of the enslaved population
•       The slave trade to Saint Domingue
•       Plantation Slavery in Saint Domingue
•       The development of Haitian Vodou
•       The French Revolution and the Haitian Revolution
•       The Bois Caimen ceremony and the role of Vodou in the Revolution
•       Maroonage and its role in the Revolution
•       The 1791 uprising
•       The 1793 emancipation in Saint Domingue and subsequent French abolition of slavery
•       Leaders including Toussaint Louverture, Sans Souci, Jean-Jacques Dessalines
•       The ‘War within a war’
•       The War of Independence and so-called ‘war of extermination’
•       Independence, especially the Declaration and Constitution
•       Post-Independence Haiti
•       The Impact of the Haitian Revolution
•       The memory of the Haitian Revolution

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion561:0056:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading561:0056:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study551:0055:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will introduce the week's content and provide orientation on the content, historiography, and source material. Seminars encourage students to analyse the assigned primary and secondary documents through the sharing of ideas and responses to the readings. Preparation for seminars require students to do private reading, requiring good time management and personal responsibility for learning.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M40Essay 1 (1,000 words)
Essay2A60Research paper (guidance within module) of 2,500 words, inc. footnotes but excluding bibliography.
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2MWritten exercise formative to the research paper final assessment. 500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessments are scaffolded towards the major research essay. The first essay focuses on the methodology of primary source analysis. The formative exercise will help students plan and draft a successful research paper, and will be followed by a meeting with me during the drop-in/surgery to make a plan to improve for the final research paper The major assessment is a research paper on a topic of the student's choice, representing the culmination of the knowledge acquired across the module and the apotheosis of the scaffolded assessment structure.

Reading Lists