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Unit information: Slavery and the Modern World (Level I Lecture Response) in 2015/16

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Unit name Slavery and the Modern World (Level I Lecture Response)
Unit code HIST25003
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Stone
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

From the sixteenth until the nineteenth centuries, millions of Africans were transported as slaves to European colonies in the ‘New World’. This lecture response unit explores a number of key themes in the relationships between slavery and the making of the modern world. Although students will be asked to think comparatively, by considering other periods, countries and systems, the main focus will be upon the British system of slavery and the British Caribbean slave colonies. A range of questions and themes will be addressed: What was slavery? How did the transatlantic system of slavery compare with other systems of unfree labour? Why did transatlantic slavery develop? What were the connections between modern theories of ‘race’ and the development of slavery? Did slavery fuel the British ‘Industrial Revolution’? Did it under-develop Africa? Why was slavery eventually abolished? What were the legacies of slavery? Lectures and group discussions will examine these and other themes through the study of selected primary sources and the writings of historians. The day-to-day experiences of slaves, the histories of slave cultures and communities, and the contributions of slave resistance and rebellion to emancipation will be considered, as will the movements for abolition and the development of anti-slavery thought.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • deeper awareness of how to approach a long term historical analysis
  • ability to set individual issues within their longer term historical context
  • the ability to analyse and generalise about issues of continuity and change
  • ability to select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general historical points
  • ability to derive benefit from and contribute effectively to large group discussion
  • ability to identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically and form an individual viewpoint

Teaching Information

  • Weekly 2-hour interactive lectures
  • Tutorial feedback on essay
  • Access to tutorial consultation with unit tutor in office hours

Assessment Information

1 x 3000 word essay (50%) and 1 x 2 hour exam (50%)

Reading and References

  • Barker, A., The African Link: British attitudes to the Negro in the era of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1550-1807 (London, 1978).
  • Beckles, H & Shepherd, V., Caribbean slavery in the Atlantic world: a student reader (Princeton, 2000).
  • Blackburn, R., The Making of New World Slavery: from the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800 (London, 1997).
  • Davis, D. B., The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture (Ithaca, 1966).
  • Morgan, K., Slavery, Atlantic Trade and the British Economy, 1660-1800 (Cambridge, 2000).
  • Thornton, J., Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1680 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).