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Lynching (Lydia Plath)

This session deals with racially motivated violence in the United States from Reconstruction into the twentieth century, focussing particularly on lynching in the American South.

For discussion

1. How did contemporaries (and how can historians) define lynching?

2. To what extent was lynching racially-motivated?

3. What does lynching tell us about changing racial attitudes in the United States?

4. In what ways can lynching photographs be used as historical documents?


Dora Apel, Imagery of Lynching: Black Men, White Women, and the Mob (Chapter One)

E. M. Beck and Stewart F. Tolnay, ‘The Killing Fields of the Deep South: The Market for Cotton and the Lynching of Blacks 1882-1930’ American Sociological Review 55 (1990) pp. 526-539

William Fitzhugh Brundage, Under Sentence of Death: Lynching in the South (Introduction)

William D. Carrigan and Clive Webb, ‘The Lynching of Persons of Mexican Origin or descent in the United States 1848-1928’ Journal of Social History 37 (2003) pp. 411-438

J. William Harris, ‘Etiquette, Lynching, and Racial Boundaries in Southern History: A Mississippi Example’ American Historical Review 100 (1995) pp. 387-410

Arthur Raper, The Tragedy of Lynching (Part One)

Stewart F. Tolnay (et al) ‘Vicarious Violence: Spatial Effects on Southern Lynchings 1890-1919’ American Journal of Sociology 102 (1996) pp. 788-815.

Christopher Waldrep, ‘War of Words: The Controversy over the Definition of Lynching, 1899-1940’ Journal of Southern History 66 (2000) pp. 75-100

Walter White, Rope and Faggot: A Biography of Judge Lynch