Racial violence has shaped Americans' perceptions of themselves and their country's history since settlement. After the Civil War, the end of slavery and struggles over citizenship transformed the scope and the stakes of that violence. In this course, we will examine how racial violence has influenced modern American history and shaped civil rights struggles. From the anti-lynching movement of the earlier twentieth century to the backlash against church bombings in the civil rights era, violence has inspired everyday Americans to join the very campaigns that racial terrorists intended to crush. Indeed, Americans have often cited incidents of racial violence as catalysts for progressive social movements and legislative reform. But racial violence has just as often retarded social progress and discouraged many from admitting or examining this painful part of our nation's history. The readings and discussions in this class will take a broad, comparative approach by examining how racial violence has affected African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and other ethnic minorities. Furthermore, we will investigate how other factors, such as gender, religion, and political ideology, influence acts of violence against racial minorities. We will also explore how the memory and portrayal of racial violence in historical scholarship and popular media has changed over time. Students will be not only students of the topic, but scholars as well. Class time will be devoted not only to discussing assigned readings and designated themes, but also to discussing the best practices of historical research and writing—from strategic reading and note-taking to storytelling and the use of quotations. By the end of the semester, each student will produce a work of original scholarship that engages with the intertwined themes of race and violence in modern America.
Day and Time: 
T 0300PM-0600PM
Cross Listings: 
  • AFRC229402
  • Major Concentrations: American
  • Major/Minor requirements fulfilled: US