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African American History and Culture (HI2B7-15)

This module surveys African American history and culture from the antebellum period to the present, with an emphasis on black agency, resistance, and survival. A social and cultural history, the module focuses on both the lived experiences of African American people, and on the intellectual and cultural debates in black communities around social movements, protest, and identity. As such, the majority of the readings will be by black authors. Key questions we will consider include: How have music, clothing, art, literature, and other cultural forms contributed to the freedom struggle? How has race intersected with gender, class, and sexuality throughout African American history? While thinkers like W. E. B. Du Bois, Amiri Baraka, and Ta-Nehisi Coates have grappled with the very nature of consciousness and colour, how have ordinary African Americans challenged white supremacy on the ground, and in the streets?

Student Reviews
  • "The variety of seminar reading that we had made the topics a lot easier to understand and explore e.g. podcasts, articles, youtube videos along with book chapters, scholarly journals and primary sources"
  • "how active our seminars are in discussing our own opinions about the subject matter made me care about the reading"
  • "The focus on women's role and activism in black history throughout the ten weeks has been very impressive and taught me a lot. Especially because I feel like there is hardly any focus on their role in the academia. Overall this module has had a significant impact on me, as I came to this module with very little to nothing (knowledge) I've definitely left this module knowing a significant about a history that effects me on a personal level, despite the short time given to teach it. It has encouraged to go beyond the classroom and read around and pursue this out of not only personal interest but on an intellectual level"
  • "One thing that had the most impact is the challenging questions/debates that provoked me to either
    analyse sources further or to deepen my understandings of process in need of coming to a conclusion"
Learning Outcomes
  • Communicate ideas and findings, adapting to a range of situations, audiences and degrees of complexity.
  • Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the course of African American history and culture since the era of slavery.
  • Generate ideas through the analysis of a broad range of primary source material, particularly of black culture.
  • Analyse and evaluate the contributions made by existing hip about the ways in which African Americans have challenged white supremacy, and analyse the debates within black communities about how to achieve social and political change.
  • Act with limited supervision and direction within defined guidelines, accepting responsibility for achieving deadlines.
  • 1500 word group project (40%)
  • Essay (50%)
  • Seminar Contribution (10%)

Aaron Douglass,"Song of the Towers" (1934)

Module Convenor: Dr Lydia Plath
Moodle (2019/20)
General Reading
Talis Aspire Reading List