Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Sound of History: the Civil Rights Movement in Post-War America
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Mutually Exclusive
Any other skills module

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 2 hour seminars plus individual essay tutorials


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 ESSAY (1,500 WORDS)  20%
Semester Assessment 1 PROJECT (5,000 WORDS)  60%

Learning Outcomes

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

On completion, students should be able to:
demonstrate familiarity with the historiography of the civil rights movement and African-American culture in the post-war period;

demonstrate an awareness of the methodological issues raised by the use of aural sources for the study of the past;

study, analyze and reflect critically on primary `texts', whether archival, printed, aural or visual;

construct and sustain historical arguments orally and in writing, and to do so with reference to primary sources;

work both independently and collaboratively, and to participate in group discussion.

Brief description

This module will evaluate aural sources as primary source material and will use the history of the civil rights movement in America from the 1950s through to the 1980s as a case study. The various aural sources to be used in the module will include: commercially produced popular music from genres including jazz, gospel, r'n'b, soul, funk, disco and rap; songs and musical culture of the civil rights movement; recordings of civil rights meetings, sermons by preachers, and speeches by civil rights leaders; poetry and prose readings by prominent writers; and the stand-up routines of African-American comedians.


The module will evaluate sound as a historical source but will also stress the importance of contextualising such aural sources through a consideration of the circumstances which surrounded the production and consumption of these aural artefacts. Further contextualisation will be achieved through the utilisation of other, `traditional' sources.


1. Introduction: Aural history
2. `We Shall Overcome': The Gospel Vision and the Movement in the 1950s
3. `Mississippi Goddam': Civil Rights in the South
4. `Money (That's What I Want)': Black Capitalism and Black Freedom
5. `Living for the City': Civil Rights in the Urban North
6. `Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud': Black Nationalism and the Sounds of Revolution
7. `Respect': Sexual Politics in the Movement.
8. `What's Going On': Vietnam and the Death of the Dream
9. `One Nation Under a Groove'?: The Black Public Sphere in the 1970s
10. `And That's the Way It Is': Rap in Reagan's America

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Oral and written communication skills will be developed through seminars and feedback on written work. These skills will be assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance Written work will be returned in tutorials where advice will be given on improving students¿ research techniques and essay writing skills. There will be no formal assessment of this skill.
Information Technology Students will be required to locate source materials through library catalogues and on-line sources. Students will also be encouraged to word-process their assessed work. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning This module will help develop written and oral skills. Other activities, including research, assessment of information and writing in a critical and clear manner, will further develop useful skills of analysis and presentation.
Problem solving Students will be expected to locate and assess primary source materials. This skill will be assessed through the three pieces of work.
Research skills Students will be required to carry out research for seminars and for the required pieces of work. Such research will be assessed in each of the three elements of assessment.
Subject Specific Skills Students will develop the ability to study, analyze and discuss various types of primary sources but with an emphasis upon aural sources.
Team work Students will work together in seminar preparation and will lead the seminars. There will be no formal assessment of this skill.


This module is at CQFW Level 6