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Withdrawn Module: Planters and Plantation Societies in British America and the United States, 1607-1865 (HI967)

Please note that this module was available
until 2010, but has since been
withdrawn and is no longer available.

Context of Module:

This module 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, the MA in Global History, the MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies, or any taught Master's student outside the History Department.


Module Aims:

This module will examine the growth, development, maturation and decline of the most significant class group in the plantation worlds of British America and the United States in the period of slavery. It will connect the development of plantation societies based on the labour of enslaved Africans and African Americans with the rise of a planter class, characterised by a strong shared consciousness of themselves as a political and cultural group. It will examine what were the salient characteristics of planters as a group, how planters interacted with other whites, free blacks and enslaved blacks and how these characteristics changed over time, especially after the tumults of the American Revolution and the abolition of the slave trade. It will conclude with a treatment of planters in the nineteenth century, examining their relations with capitalism and paternalism and the legacies of the plantation system once slavery was ended.


Intended Learning Outcomes:
  • as part of their subject knowledge and understanding, recognize and evaluate the main historiographical trends in scholarly writing about race and society in British America and the United States

  • as part of their critical skills, identify the context and assess the significance of contemporary source materials

  • identify and evaluate the processes of historical change as they affect and inform social change and race ideologies

  • demonstrate a familiarity with historical methods, concepts and use of primary and secondary historical source materials as these relate to the Americas



Seminar 1



Seminar 2


The Planter as a Social Type

Seminar 3


Planters without Slaves

Seminar 4


The Plantation Revolution?

Seminar 5


The Development of Planter Elites

Seminar 6


Planters and Slavery

Seminar 7


Planters and Power

Seminar 8


Revolutions and Abolitions

Seminar 9


The Planter as Capitalist

Seminar 10


The End of Planter Dominance


 Illustrative Bibliography:
Ira Berlin, Many Generations Come
Ira Berlin, Generations in Captivity
David B. Davis, Inhuman Bondage
Richard S. Dunn, Sugar and Slaves
S.D. Smith, Slavery, Family and Gentry Capitalism in the British Atlantic
Philip D. Morgan, Slave Counterpoint
William K. Scarborough, Masters of the Big House
Trevor Burnard, Creole Gentlemen
Anthony S. Parent, Foul Means
Robert Olwell, Masters, Slaves and Subjects
Max Edelson, Plantation Enterprise in Colonial South Carolina
Rhys Isaac, Landon Carter’s Uneasy Kingdom
Richard Follett, The Sugar Masters
William Dusinberre, Them Dark Days
John D. Garrigus, Before Haiti
Stephanie McCurry, Masters of Small Worlds
Eugene Genovese, The Mind of the Master Class
David Blight, Race and Reunion
Rebecca Scott, Degrees of Freedom
Trevor Burnard, Mastery, Tyranny and Desire
Christopher L. Brown, Moral Capital


1 assessed essay of 5,000 words: the course is taught in weekly 2-hour seminars.