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Online course

The American South

Explore the fascinating history and culture of the American South from colonial times to the 21st century.

What’s the difference between a free course and an upgraded course?


  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No certificate


  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

The American South

Why join the course?

The American South is arguably the most important, yet frequently most misunderstood section of the United States. On this course you will unwrap the paradoxes of this complex region and get to grips with its fascinating history.

Discover the history and culture of the American South

Through this course you’ll develop a keen understanding of debates around the sources, extent, nature, and even existence of something we call “The American South”. We’ll explore many different aspects of southern life, culture, and history including examining the history of slavery, the Confederacy, and the South’s defeat in the Civil War. You’ll also learn how and why Jim Crow laws solidified in the South, how reactions to racial segregation developed in southern culture and learn about the history of the civil rights movement.

Explore the American South of today

Once we have a solid understand of the South’s past, we’ll move to it’s present. By the end of the course you should understand the major features of southern life in the 21st century and come to some conclusions about the nature and extent of southern distinctiveness.

Understand misconceptions of the American South

The American South has a peculiar reputation for violence, racism, sexism and other forms of intolerance and bigotry, but also has a reputation for friendliness, hospitality and a strong commitment to family, heritage, and community. Paying close attention to the South’s unique place in the popular imagination, the course will also examine how various understandings and misunderstandings of the South, its characteristics and connections to the rest of the United States and the rest of the world, came into being and have changed over time.

Learn from experts in the field

The Institute of the Humanities at Northumbria has a large cohort of American Studies scholars, of which many are experts on the American South in particular: from politics and identity, to civil rights and evangelicalism.

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsHello, and welcome to this course on the History and Culture of the American South. My name is Brian Ward and I'm a Professor in American Studies at Northumbria University. Together with a team of experts on all things Southern, I'll be your guide for what we hope will be an enjoyable and illuminating exploration of some of the key events, people, movements, and themes connected with the US South. It's a fascinating, complex region that, as we'll discover together, has exerted enormous influence on the history, politics and cultures of the United States, and indeed on the rest of the world.

Skip to 0 minutes and 39 secondsIn sum then, this course allows you to engage with the history of a region that has been by turns enchanting and exasperating, a source of deep fear and loathing, but also of deep admiration, endless fascination, and no little imitation. It's a place of enormous poverty, racial intolerance, religious bigotry, ill health, and violence. Yet it's also a site of tremendous creativity with a well-earned reputation for openness, hospitality, good living, and a deep respect for family, place, god and history. With a course that takes us from Robert E.

Skip to 1 minute and 7 secondsLee to Harper Lee, from the Ku Klux Klan to the Kings of Leon, from Coca-cola to Kudzu, and from Gone With the Wind to Hurricane Katrina, we can promise you an exhilarating and thought provoking introduction to the enigma that is the American South.

What topics will you cover?

  • Identity (including race, gender, and class)
  • War and Reconciliation
  • Social Activism and Justice
  • Contemporary and Historical Politics

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the history and culture of the American South.
  • Investigate the question of regional distinctiveness in the United States.
  • Identify key icons, events, themes in the history and culture of the American South.

Who is the course for?

There are no special requirements for this course but an interest in history or American culture might be useful.

Who will you learn with?

Brian Ward

I am Northumbria University’s first Professor in American Studies and my teaching and research focuses on the modern US South, the African American Experience, and popular music.

Michael Cullinane

I am Reader (Associate Professor) in US History at Northumbria University. I research American history in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, and particularly on the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.

Megan Hunt

I'm an Associate Lecturer in Humanities at Northumbria University, currently finishing up my PhD on the American South in Hollywood film. I am specifically interested in the civil rights era.

Who developed the course?

Northumbria University is a research-rich, business-focused, professional university with a global reputation for academic excellence.

Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate and transcript

You can buy a Certificate of Achievement for this course — a personalised certificate and transcript in both digital and printed formats, to prove what you’ve learnt. A Statement of Participation is also available for this course.

Certificate of Achievement + transcript £49.00

Statement of Participation £39.00

Estimate prices in preferred currency

Charges to your account will be made in GBP. Prices in local currency are provided as a convenience and are only an estimate based on current exchange rates.