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HIST2133 Human Variations and Racism in Western Culture, c. 1450-1950

Later Year Course

Offered By School of History
Academic Career Undergraduate
Course Subject History
Offered in Second Semester, 2013
Unit Value 6 units
Course Description

This course investigates how Western societies have comprehended humanity's physical diversity and why these understandings have changed over time. We will examine the historical processes which gradually encouraged this diversity to be read both as evidence of permanent, innate, 'racial' difference and justification for socio-political inequality, or 'racist' discrimination. The course considers the concept of 'race' within the contexts of the development of scientific knowledge regarding the natural world and the intellectual history of what it was to be human. Students will explore how these ideas shaped colonisation and chattel slavery; nationalism and empire; segregation and sexuality; eugenics and genocide.

Learning Outcomes

Fundamentally, students will develop their ability to think historically. That is, they will learn how we go about comprehending the past; explaining change and continuity over time by analyzing primary sources. They will practise articulating their understanding of the past and should also be able to explain how their own understanding relates to the wider historiography.

More precisely, candidates will gain experience of two different types of historiography, the history of ideas and of science. They will also appreciate how we go about comprehending the development of a particular social process (in this case, the process of racialization) over time.

Indicative Assessment

An independent research essay of 3000 words (60%); the remaining coursework will consist of preparatory exercise(s) for the research essay, such as a book review and/or formal research proposal, which together would total no more that 2000 words (40%).

While students will have considerable freedom to formulate a research topic which is of particular interest to them, ongoing consultation with the course convener will be required. Preparatory exercises will typically be due in the first 6-8 weeks of teaching. As there is no final examination, the research essay will be due on the last day of teaching.


On-campus. Lectures streamed via DLD audio, and Web video as available. 

One two-hour lecture and one one-hour tutorial session per week. Tutorial sessions will involve group discussion but also a combination of research workshops, consultations and presentations.  Students should expect to devote a similar period of time each week to private study.

Areas of Interest History
Requisite Statement

History first year courses to the value of twelve units, or with permission of the Convener.

Prescribed Texts

A Reading Brick will be compiled and available on wattle.

Preliminary Reading

Ivan Hannaford, Race:  The History of an Idea in the West (Baltimore, 1996).

Indicative Reading List

Contact course convener for further details.

Technology Requirements

Recommend up-to-date browser and the following software: word-processing (for .doc, .rtf, or .pdf creation); Adobe Acrobat (reader for .pdfs); RealPlayer or iTunes (for listening to lecture audio); Quicktime or Windows MediaPlayer (for viewing lecture video).

Majors/Specialisations European History, History, and Asian History
Academic Contact Dr. Dawson

The information published on the Study at ANU 2012 website applies to the 2012 academic year only. All information provided on this website replaces the information contained in the Study at ANU 2011 website.

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