(U16 HIST 2161 01)

The American South in Black and White


Steven P. Miller, Ph.D.


Washington University in St. Louis (University College)

Spring 2009, M 6:30-9:00 p.m., Eliot 216


Email: spmiller@wustl.edu (the best way to reach me)

Phone: 314-853-5495 (for emergencies only; no calls after 8:30 p.m., please!)

*** I will be on campus approximately one hour before each class meeting. 

Contact me to arrange a meeting. ***


Course Description and Themes

The history of the American South is a story of the interplay between black and white cultures.  This course explores this distinctive American region from the colonial era to the present.  Topics include Southern plantation life, the Civil War (a.k.a., the War Between the States), Jim Crow, Southern music, and the Civil Rights Movement.  Using film, photography, and other media, the course also explores representations of the South in popular culture.  Particular attention is paid to how images and stereotypes of the South have evolved—and to how the region’s history has influenced the nation as a whole. 


Required Books/Readings

1.)    Keith, Jeanette.  The South: A Concise History, Volumes 1 & 2.  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002.  ISBN: 0130771112 (paperback)

2.)   Faust, Drew Gilpin.  Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War.  Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2004 [1996].  ISBN: 0807855731 (paperback)

3.)   Moody, Anne.  Coming of Age in Mississippi.  Dell, 1976 [1968]  ISBN: 0440314887 (mass market paperback)

4.)   Weekly readings (usually posted on Telesis in dated folder; otherwise, handouts)


Class Structure and Expectations

Classes consist of both lectures and discussions (often a mixture of the two).  Lectures outline critical themes, provide important factual information, and frame key questions for subsequent discussions.  Fruitful discussion requires close engagement of the readings, listed just below each class date. 


Since this is a once a week course, you are advised to attend every session.  Please clear foreseeable excused absences in advance.  In the event of emergencies—e.g., illness—please notify me of your absence as soon as is convenient.


If you require accommodations for exams or for lectures, please contact Cornerstone: the Center for Advanced Learning, located in Gregg Hall (935-5970, www.cornerstone.wustl.edu).  Cornerstone serves as the official University resource for approving and arranging students’ accommodations.  All information is treated as confidential.  I will provide accommodations for which you qualify as long as I receive the appropriate documentation from Cornerstone. 


I encourage you to take advantage of the many resources offered by the Writing Center: www.artsci.wustl.edu/~writing; email: writing@artsci.wustl.edu.



  • Participation, including weekly written summaries (20% of final grade).
    • Quality participation reflects engagement with the assigned readings.  Raising important questions represents one valuable way of contributing to discussions.  The participation component may also include extemporaneous in-class assignments. 
    • Prepare a 1-2 pp. written response to the weekly non-textbook readings.  While the response should provide a brief summary of the reading(s), its main purpose is to serve as a starting point for in-class discussion.  It is intended as a first draft interpretation of what we will “unpack” together in class. 


  • Written report on film concerning the American South (2/2, 5%).


  • Response essay on Mothers of Invention (3/2, 15%).


  • In-class midterm exam.  I will provide a study guide beforehand (3/16, 25%).


  • In-class response on (and discussion of) Coming of Age in Mississippi (4/27, 10%).


  • Final exam take home essay and in-class discussion (5/4, 25%).


Grading Scale:              A         93-100           C+       77-79

A-        90-92             C          73-76          

B+       87-89             C-        70-72

B         83-86              D          60-69

B-        80-82             F          0-59 


Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
As you know, students at Washington University are expected to adhere to the highest standards of behavior.  Plagiarism, copying from other students, and other forms of cheating will not be tolerated.  It is dishonest and a violation of student academic integrity if you plagiarize, cheat on an examination, copy or collaborate on assignments without permission, fabricate or falsify data or records, or engage in other forms of deceit or dishonesty.  Complete information about the University’s Academic Integrity Policy may be found at http://artsci.wustl.edu/~college/Policies/; click on “Academic Integrity Policy.”  All violations of standard rules of academic integrity will be reported to and investigated by the Dean of University College.  If it is determined that you have acted dishonestly, or even if you have admitted the charges prior to a formal investigation or hearing, an appropriate sanction will be imposed, including automatic failure of the assignment or course, or in the case of serious or repeat violations, suspension or expulsion from the University.  Withdrawing from a course will not prevent the Dean from imposing or recommending sanctions.  If you observe another student violating this policy, you have a responsibility to confront the student, report the misconduct to the instructor, and/or seek advice from the appropriate dean or academic integrity officer.  For additional information, definitions of plagiarism, guidelines for writing and research, examples of proper citation, and practical tips on avoiding conventional and Internet plagiarism, please visit the following Web sites:
www.plagiarism.org and http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~writing/plagiarism.htm.  Note that citation standards apply as equally to Internet-based materials as to printed materials.  Please let me know if you have any questions about proper citation, attribution of sources, collaboration with other students, or any other related aspect of academic integrity and plagiarism.


Course Schedule


1/12  Week 1


Viewing the South and Talking about Southern History


The South Volume I, Introduction (in class)


1/19  No Class (MLK Day)


1/26  Week 2

Jamestown and Beyond

American Slavery, American Freedom


The South Vol. I, 14-42

Richard Hakluyt, from “A Briefe and True Report on the New Found Land of Virginia”

Olaudah Equiano, from “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African”

William Byrd of Virginia, excerpts from his diary


2/2  Week 3

Life, Liberty, and Property: The Revolutionary Era


The South Vol. I, 43-51

Jill Lepore, “Goodbye, Columbus”




2/9  Week 4

God, Cotton, and the Old South


The South Vol. I, 53-75, 92-97

James Ireland, excerpt from his diary

Peter Cartwright, excerpt from Autobiography of Peter Cartwright, The Backwoods Preacher


2/16  Week 5

Tensions of a Slave Society

Unchained Memories


The South Vol. I, 76-91

A slave owner’s instructions

Edmund Ruffin and George Fitzhugh defend slavery

Harriet Jacobs, from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl


2/23  Week 6


The Civil War, From the Perspective of Confederates


The South Vol. I, Chps. 3 and 4

State secession ordinances


3/2  Week 7

Mothers of Invention

The Civil War, From the Perspectives of Slaves


Letters from new freedmen (in class)




3/9  No Class (Spring Break)

3/16  Week 9


Reconstruction, an Introduction


The South Vol. I, Chp. 5


3/23  Week 10

The Lost Cause

Jim Crow and the New South


The South Vol. II, 46-86

David W. Blight, from Race and Reunion


3/30  Week 11

Southern Religion

Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus


The South Vol. II, Chp. 3

Donald Mathews, from “Lynching Religion”


4/6  Week 12

Southern Music

Interpreting the South Through Southern Literature


Flannery O’Connor, “Revelation”

                William Faulkner, “Wash”


4/13  Week 13

The Solid South

The Roots of the Modern South


The South Vol. II, Chp. 4

James N. Gregory, from Southern Diaspora

4/20  Week 14

The Civil Rights Movement, an Introduction

Studying the Segregationists


The South Vol. II, 157-195

“Declaration of Constitutional Principles” (Southern Manifesto)

Jerry Falwell, “Ministers and Marches”


4/27  Week 15

Anne Moody’s South

The Newest New South




5/4  Week 16

Interpreting the Modern South (Discussion of Take Home exams)



The South Vol. II, 195-203, Epilogue