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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the U.S. South, 1789-1860 (HIST10333)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines the history of slavery in the U.S. South between the American Revolution and the Civil War.
Course description This course aims to provide students with a broad understanding of U.S. slavery in its final decades. We will explore slavery on a number of levels: as an economic system that allowed enslavers to exploit land and forced labour; as a mechanism of racial control; and as an institution that purportedly exercised absolute control over enslaved people's lives and labour. Reflecting the trend of the last generation of slavery studies, our major focus will be on the lives of enslaved people themselves, exploring their work patterns, personal relationships, social and religious lives, and gender roles and identities.

Content note: The study of History inevitably involves the study of difficult topics that we encourage students to approach in a respectful, scholarly, and sensitive manner. Nevertheless, we remain conscious that some students may wish to prepare themselves for the discussion of difficult topics. In particular, the course organiser has outlined that the following topics may be discussed in this course, whether in class or through required or recommended primary and secondary sources: warfare, sexual violence, racial violence, racist language, paramilitary violence, terrorism. While this list indicates sensitive topics students are likely to encounter, it is not exhaustive because course organisers cannot entirely predict the directions discussions may take in tutorials or seminars, or through the wider reading that students may conduct for the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass or passes in 40 credits of first level historical courses or equivalent and a pass or passes in 40 credits of second level historical courses or equivalent.

Students should only be enrolled on this course with approval from the History Honours Programme Administrator.
Additional Costs 0
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 40 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
3000 word essay (40%)

Non-Written Skills:
Seminar presentation / discussion leader (10%)
Seminar participation (10%)

Written Exam:
Two-hour exam (40%)
Feedback Students will receive written feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours or by appointment.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
  2. Evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material;
  3. Develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  4. Evaluate the work of others, including peers.
Reading List
Richard Bell, Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home (New York: 37 INK, Simon & Schuster, 2020).

Ira Berlin, Generations of Captivity: A History of African-American Slaves (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2022).

Daina Ramey Berry, The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved from Womb to Grave in the Building of a Nation (Boston: Beacon Press, 2017).

Stephanie M. H. Camp, Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004).

Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge (New York: 37 Ink/Atria, 2017).

Vanessa M. Holden, Surviving Southampton: African American Women and Resistance in Nat Turner's Community (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2021).

Walter Johnson, Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999).

Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers, They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019).

Adam Rothman, Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005).

Calvin Schermerhorn, Unrequited Toil: A History of United States Slavery (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018).

David Silkenat, Scars on the Land: An Environmental History of Slavery in the American South (New York: Oxford University Press, 2022).

Manisha Sinha, The Slave's Cause: A History of Abolition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The ability to develop and sustain historical arguments, formulate appropriate questions and utilise evidence, both in class discussions and in written work

Skills in research development and analysis

An ability to interrogate, read, analyse, and reflect critically and contextually upon historical writings

Oral communication skills, through seminar participation and through seminar participation and presentation delivery

Group working through seminar activities
KeywordsPeculiar Institution
Course organiserDr James MacKay
Tel: (01316) 503774
Course secretaryMiss Annabel Samson
Tel: (0131 6)50 3783
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