Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 527: The Historical Geography of American Race Relations

Instructor: Elizabeth Hines

negro slave poster Jim Crow sign rockwell magazine cover

This course primarily considers relationships between African- and European-Americans from slavery to the present. Other racial issues may also be examined.

I have been studying racial violence since my doctoral dissertation on Deep South lynching nearly 20 years ago. However, lynching is just one part of the history of America's racial dystopia, which includes the eras of slavery, Reconstruction and its failure, Jim Crow legislation, Civil Rights activism and legislation, and the 21st century environment. Each period has contributed to modern American racially-charged events, racial landscapes, and political and social climates. While these topics are deeply historical and sociological, they are also part of the fabric of American cultural geography, which enriches our understanding of our society's past, present and future. I am particularly interested in white supremacy and associated race riots, such as those which occurred in New Orleans and Memphis in 1866, Colfax, LA in 1873, Wilmington in 1898, Tulsa, OK in 1921, and Rosewood, FL in 1923 (to mention just a few) and their lingering political, social, and economic effects. However, there are many other aspects of obvious and hidden racism to consider. Of course, not all racial topics are grim, so there will also be opportunities to explore them.

We will view several videos about race in America, read Dr. Timothy B. Tyson's Radio Free Dixie and Blood Done Sign My Name, President Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father, and select other materials from the class bibliography. In addition to class discussion of films, readings, current events, and personal experiences, students will select a research topic, prepare a formal paper, and present their research to the class.

Last Update: February 6, 2017