Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Invisible Empires: The First Ku Klux Klan and American Society, 1865-1915
Academic Year
Semester 1
Co-requisite with HQ39720: The Invisible Empires: The Second Ku Klux Klan and American Society, 1915-1944
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay  2500 Words  60%
Semester Assessment Oral Presentation  15 Minutes  40%
Supplementary Assessment Essay  2500 Words  60%
Supplementary Assessment Document Analysis  1500 Words  40%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the history of the Ku Klux Klan and the wider developments in American society from 1865 and 1915 as they relate to American race relations and the Reconstruction Era.

Evaluate the different developments in the history of the Ku Klux Klan and its influence on broader American society from 1865 to 1915.

Understand and engage with the historiographical debates and historical interpretations concerning the growth of the Ku Klux Klan and its impact on late 19th and early 20th century American society

Assess primary sources related to the Ku Klux Klan during the Reconstruction era and apply these to their interpretation of this topic

Understand and apply the necessary frameworks and methodology needed to examine the Ku Klux Klan and the history of American race relations.

Brief description

This Special Subject will explore the conflicts arising from the growth of the First Ku Klux Klan during the Reconstruction Era and its lasting impact in the politics and culture of the United States into the early 20th century. It will analyse the development of this terrorist organization, examining how its members sought to reassert white supremacy in the post-bellum South through violence and intimidation. Furthermore, this module will also examine the campaigns of those who sought to oppose them and the experiences of the ordinary Americans targeted by vigilante violence. More broadly, this module will employ the rise and fall of the Reconstruction Klan as a lens to understand broader conversations in American society during this period relating to race, politics, society, and identity. By examining a range of primary sources and engaging with the historiographical debates on this topic, students will develop a deeper understanding of American history.


This Special Subject aims to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the history of the First Ku Klux Klan and the broader political and social processes taking place in the aftermath of the American Civil War. By engaging with the secondary literature and examining a broad range of primary sources produced by supporters and opponents of the Klan – including newspapers, oral testimony, illustrations, Congressional reports and fictional accounts – students will develop a detailed knowledge of the history of the First Klan and the Reconstruction Era. This module will examine the period between 1865 and 1915, and will serve as the foundation for its co-requisite module in the second semester.


This module will be delivered through a series of 10 weekly seminars, whose topics can include the following:
1. Introduction
2. Studying the Ku Klux Klan: Methods and Approaches
3. The Origins of the Ku Klux Klan
4. The Expansion of the Reconstruction Klan
5. Reconstruction Klan Violence and Regionality
6. The Ku Klux Klan in Public Discourse
7. Congress and the Reconstruction Klan
8. African-American Resistance to the Reconstruction Klan
9. Redemption Politics and the Resurgence of Violence
10. Memorializing the First Ku Klux Klan

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Co-ordinating with others Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars) and to learn to evaluate their own contribution to such activities.
Creative Problem Solving Students are expected to note and respond to historical problems which arise as part of the study of this subject area and to undertake suitable research for seminars and assignments.
Critical and analytical thinking Students will develop their critical and analytical thinking by reading a range of texts and evaluating their usefulness in preparation for the coursework and the seminars.
Digital capability Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be expected to word-process their work and make use of Blackboard. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Professional communication Written communication skills will be developed through the coursework; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars but are not formally assessed.
Real world sense Students will develop a range of transferable skills, including time management and communication skills, which may help them identify their personal strengths as they consider potential career paths.
Subject Specific Skills Students will develop an in-depth understanding of the history of the Ku Klux Klan and of broader American history between 1865 to 1915


This module is at CQFW Level 6