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The University of Southampton

HIST1029 American Slavery

Module Overview

This module will explore New World slavery, specifically in the context of the United States and the West Indies. Within this context we will consider broad interpretations of slavery, from abolitionist critiques of the nineteenth century through to revisionist studies of the 1970s and beyond. We will also explore new approaches to the study of slavery and introduce you to different types of evidence; for example, the archaeological record, slave narratives and planters’ journals.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the evolution of the study of New World slavery, from the nineteenth century through to the present day
  • the problems inherent in using different types of primary sources (e.g. slave narratives).
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • critically assess the contribution of different disciplines and different methodologies to the study of New World slavery.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • contribute confidently and appropriately to class discussion, demonstrating oral communication skills at a standard appropriate for year 1 study
  • write fluently and effectively, expressing yourself on paper in a clear and coherent manner
  • manage your own learning and your time effectively, meeting deadlines
  • display personal initiative through independent information gathering.


Seminar are likely to include: • Origins of slavery • The Colonial Era • The American Revolution • Antebellum slavery – including slaves and work, slave communities, and slave resistance • Slavery and the Civil War • Abolition of slavery and freeing slaves

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Short Lectures • Seminar Discussions Learning activities include • Independent reading using resources available in the library • Note-taking in lectures • Active participation in seminars You will use reading lists provided by the module convener to guide your reading and preparation for weekly seminars. You will be expected to make contributions to seminar discussions based on your preparatory reading. You will be encouraged to attend essay tutorials which will give you the opportunity to discuss essay ideas and to review feedback on your work.

Preparation for scheduled sessions30
Completion of assessment task40
Follow-up work30
Wider reading or practice
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Herbert S Klein (1999). The Atlantic Slave Trade. 

Peter Parish (1989). Slavery: History and Historians. 

Marcus Wood (2000). Blind Memory: Visual Representations of Slavery in England and America, 1780-1865. 

James Walvin (1993). Black Ivory: A History of British Slavery. 

J R Oldfield (1995). Popular Politics and British Anti-Slavery: The Mobilisation of Public Opinion against the Slave Trade, 1787-1807. 

Peter Kolchin (1993). American Slavery. 

James Walvin (2000). Making the Black Atlantic: Britain and the African Diaspora. 


Assessment Strategy

The lectures will introduce you to the main historiographical and methodological issues involved in the study of New World slavery. These lectures will provide the basic foundation for the seminar sessions, in which we will explore these issues in greater depth. Reading sources each week will enable you to understand the advantages and disadvantages of different types of evidence and different approaches to slavery. You will prepare papers for group discussion, and these will usually form the basis for more detailed examination in the assessed essay which will usually deal with a specific problem or approach and test your critical, analytical and written communication skills. The examination is intended to test your broad understanding of the subject matter of the course.


MethodPercentage contribution
Commentary exercise  (1000 words) 20%
Essay  (2000 words) 40%
Examination  (1 hours) 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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