The American Civil War Era 1848-1877 - HIST5024

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


This course will examine this key era of US history by examining the key political and social events, developments in the history of ideas and historiographical controversies from the victory over Mexico to the final withdrawal of US troops from the South. It will focus on the changes that occurred and the changing interpretations of them. Students will be able to see the interplay of forces and ideas that led to a conflict that few, if any, wanted and lasted for longer than anyone expected. Historical and fictional depictions in art and film will be evaluated for the ways they shape perspectives. The key historical topics include the rise of slavery as a public issue in the late 1840s, the attempts to find compromise within the Constitutional framework, the activities of the extremists, the changing nature and goals of the war, the effects the war had on both sides, the plans for the post-war period, the changing elite and popular attitudes, the nature of the final, pragmatic arrangements that the country accepted. Students will be able to pursue topics of their choice alongside and as part of these themes.


Contact hours

3 hours a week.

Method of assessment

HI5024 is assessed by a 40% coursework, 60% exam ratio. The coursework mark is typically made up by two 3,000 word essays and at least one in-class presentation. The exam mark is arrived at by one two-hour exam in the Summer term.

Indicative reading

S CRANE - 'Red Badge of Courage' (Dover ed. is the cheapest – any will do)
E FONER - 'A Short History of Reconstruction' (Harper, 1990)
JM MCPHERSON - 'Battle Cry of Freedom' (Penguin, 1988)
M PERMAN (ed). - 'Major Problems in the Civil War and Reconstruction' (Houghton Mifflin, 1998)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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