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Withdrawn Module: Perceptions of Race in the Antebellum South (HI925)

Please note that this module was available
until 2013, but has since been
withdrawn and is no longer available.

Context of Module

This module, taught in the Spring term, may be taken by students on the MA in History, the MA in Modern History, the MA in the History of Race in the Americas, or any taught Master's student outside the History Department.


Module Aims

This course aims to study the racial milieu of the antebellum Southern United States, possibly the most heterogeneous of all American Societies. While the region as a whole had a white majority, it is important to recognise that certain areas had a mainly black or Indian population. Understanding the historical importance of race in the region in the main aim of the module, and offers a contrast to the racial perceptions of Americans in different centuries and in other societies (such as the Caribbean and Latin America).


Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will explore, through the use of primary and secondary material, the interaction between the three races in the antebellum South. They will gain an understanding of how each major racial grouping perceived themselves and how they perceived others. They will also examine the impact of class and gender on racial perceptions, and examine the concept that race is fundamentally a social construct.


Outline Syllabus

Seminar 1: Introduction

Seminar 2: Elite Whites

Seminar 3: Non-Elite Whites

Seminar 4: Slave Community

Seminar 5: Free Black Community

Seminar 6: Black-White Interaction

Seminar 7: Case Study: The Cherokee

Seminar 8: Case Study: The Seminole


Illustrative Bibliography

Axtell, James, The European and the Indian

Blassingame, John W., The slave community: plantation life in the antebellum South. New York, 1972.

Fox-Genovese, Elizabeth, Within the plantation household: black and white women of the old South. Chapel Hill, NC, 1988.

Fredrickson, G. M., The black image in the white mind.

Fredrickson, G. M., The arrogance of race

Genovese, Eugene D., The world the slaveholders made: two essays in interpretation. London, 1970.

Genovese, Eugene D., Roll, Jordan, roll: the world the slaves made. New York, 1974.

Harris, J. William, Plain folk and gentry in a slave society: white liberty and black slavery in Augusta's hinterlands.

Hoetink, H., Slavery and race relations in the Americas. London, 1973.

Jordan, Winthrop D., White over black: American attitudes towards the Negro. Chapel Hill, NC, 1968.

Levine, Lawrence W., Black culture and black consciousness: Afro-American thought from slavery to freedom. Oxford, 1977.

Oakes, James, Slavery and freedom: an interpretation of the old South. New York, 1990.

Owens, Leslie Howard, This species of property: slave life and culture in the old South. Oxford, 1977.

Owsley, Frank Lawrence, Plain folk of the old South.

Perdue, Theda, Cherokee Women.

Sobel, Mechal, The world they made together

Starr, Raymond, Race prejudice & the origins of slavery in America

Takaki, Ronald T., Iron cages: race and culture in nineteenth-century America.

Tise, Larry, Proslavery


Other Information

The module will be taught in weekly two-hour seminars during the Spring Term.



1 assessed essay of 5,000 words.