The University of Southampton

HIST1137 Revolutionary America

Module Overview

The American Revolution was arguably one of the most crucial turning points in United States history. In this course we will examine how the thirteen colonies drew together to rebel against Great Britain, and how they eventually succeeded in winning their independence. This narrative, however, will occupy us for only a small portion of the class time. This module is mainly concerned with how everyday people — from women, to slaves, to Loyalists, to Native Americans — dealt with those events on their own terms, both during the war and in its wake. In pursuing these additional stories we will learn what it meant to be an American, or not, during those tumultuous years from roughly 1774 to 1830. Readings may include soldiers’ diaries, slave narratives, treaty minutes, and political debates.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Provide an introduction to the American Revolution. Assess the forms of interactions between colonists, Britons, enslaved Africans, Loyalists, and Native Americans from roughly 1750 to 1830. Engage with the ways in which historians have grappled with changing interpretations of the American Revolution.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • The history of Revolutionary America.
  • The different ways in which historians have interpreted the origins of the Revolution, the story of everyday soldiers, the Indians’ Revolution, the Loyalist diaspora, the federalist/antifederalist debates, and the formation of the Early Republic.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Construct an easy-to-follow essay containing an introduction, thesis statement, counterargument, and conclusion.
  • Communicate effectively in class discussions.
  • Recognise that you should be studying thematically, rather than trying to memorise all information, in order to succeed in writing your exams and essays.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Carry out independent research based on primary and secondary sources.
  • Use a range of library resources and online databases to gather evidence.
  • Correctly cite historical sources in your essays.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Accurately and clearly choose evidence from your readings to support the arguments you make for your examination questions and essay topics.
  • Recognise the importance of key sources and moments in Revolutionary American history.
  • Evaluate and engage with the arguments that previous historians have made about said sources.
  • Articulate your reflections on primary and secondary source literature in informal class discussions.


Background to Revolution: Ideology, Economy, and Religion Everyday soldiers Political justifications and writings Revolutionary Loyalists Black soldiers The American Revolution in Indian Country The Revolution for Women The Federalist Debates The Making and Unmaking of Empires The Loyalist diaspora The Boundlessness(?) of the Early Republic

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods • Lectures • Seminars • Individual consultation on essays Learning activities • Preparatory reading for class discussions • Oral presentations • Group work in class • Analysis of primary sources including pictures and texts

Independent Study126
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Bailyn, Bernard (1992). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. 

Calloway, Collin G (1995). The American Revolution in Indian Country: Crisis and Diversity in North American Communities. 

Wood, Gordon S (1993). The Radicalism of the American Revolution. 

Breen, T.H (2004). The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence. 

McCoy, Drew R (1980). The Elusive Republic: Political Economy in Jeffersonian America. 

Jasanoff, Maya (2011). Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World. 

Eastman, Carolyn (2009). A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public after the Revolution. 


Assessment Strategy

Formative assessment: ? Oral presentations ? Group work in class The preparatory reading of secondary literature will help you acquire basic knowledge. The oral presentations will involve the analysis of secondary literature and historiographical debates related to the topic of the week, helping you to develop your critical thinking. In groups, you will practice commentaries upon primary sources. In your commentaries you will demonstrate your capacity to use primary sources and make connections between a source and its context. In the written essay, you will demonstrate your knowledge of broader issues and your ability to sustain a critical analysis of the set topics.




MethodPercentage contribution
Annotated bibliography 10%
Commentary exercise  (500 words) 10%
Essay  (2000 words) 40%
Examination  (1 hours) 40%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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