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America in Black and White? Contemporary US Race Relations in Historical Context (HI2B1)

Module Convenor: Dr Lydia Plath

This module aims to equip students with the ability to make use of the past to understand the present through a study of African American history, culture, and politics. Students on this module will take contemporary racial issues, such as mass incarceration or the Black Lives Matter movement, and trace their historical antecedents through both primary and secondary sources. In doing so, students will examine how race in the United States has been, and continues to be, socially constructed. The module will include some discussion of whites, Latino/as, Native Americans, and Asian Americans (as well as other groups), but it will prioritise the voices of African Americans in its use of source material. The module will encourage students to consider the role of historians and other scholars in contemporary racial activism, and will allow students to articulate their findings in a range of ways, including through class participation, social media and podcasting, in order to develop their transferable skills.

This second-year undergraduate 15 CATS module runs for ten weeks in the spring term. The topics discussed will vary year-to-year and will be decided in the first week of term by the students on the module. By the end of the module students will be able to:

  1. Identify the key themes and issues in US race relations in the present, and evaluate them in historical context
  2. Communicate ideas and findings about US race relations in historical context, both orally and in writing, to a range of audiences;
  3. Engage in the analysis of a body of primary source material, including online sources;
  4. Analyse and evaluate the contributions made by existing interdisciplinary scholarship on US race relations.