A New History of the American South

Course No. 8388
Professor Edward L. Ayers, Ph.D.
University of Richmond
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Course No. 8388
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers How British Anglicanism came to be replaced in the South by evangelical Christianity.
  • numbers Trace the rise of abolitionism and antislavery societies, and the violent backlash of anti-abolitionists.
  • numbers Investigate the vibrant musical culture of the postbellum South, and the African musical elements that converged in the birth of ragtime and jazz, as well as the evolution of blues, country music, and gospel.

Course Overview

The American South holds a special place in the minds of people around the world. The South’s extraordinarily colorful and dramatic history, its competing narratives of prosperity and cruelty, its role in the American Civil War, and its influence on the emerging conception of human rights are, for many, the stuff of legend.

Yet, misconceptions and incomplete information abound about the South, concerning not only its origins and development, but also its interconnections with the Northern states, its place in the larger scope of world history, and its repercussions for our own era.

To know the history of the American South, within its own context, is to come to terms with one of modern history’s most astonishing, polarizing, and illuminating stories:

  • Within just a few decades after the American Revolution, the South grew into a major force in the world economy, as the largest and most powerful slave-based society of the modern world;
  • The political, philosophical, and moral conflicts that surrounded the South’s vast prosperity triggered a war of global consequence;
  • The South’s tumultuous remaking following the Civil War witnessed both the boldest experiment in expanding democracy and the largest political revolt in American history; and
  • The Southern experience of defeat and regeneration resulted in a globe-spanning legacy of cultural, religious, and artistic expression.


In the 24 lectures of A New History of the American South, taught by an award-winning professor, Edward L. Ayers of the University of Richmond, you’ll delve into these remarkable stories, and many more, exploring in detail the rise and the fall of the slave South, and examining the full scope of a historical epoch that still profoundly influences life in the United States today.


Rediscover the American South

In these eye-opening lectures, you’ll track the historical forces that created the Southern U.S. colonies, how the colonies’ political and economic structures became conducive to the importation of slavery, and how, within the new American nation, the South became one of the most powerful exponents of the Atlantic slave trade.

You’ll trace the growth and evolution of the South, as its archaic system of slavery fused with the trappings of modernity to create a society that was one of the most prosperous and politically democratic in the world—for some—yet home to one of the cruelest forms of oppression for others.

In the flush of its prosperity, you’ll witness the South gamble everything on a bid to create its own nation, leading to devastating war, and the profound changes of emancipation and Reconstruction, events that transformed the South in ways that could never have been foreseen.

And, you’ll study the new society that rose from the ashes of the slave South, a society fraught with violent divisions over what the New South would be, and presenting new and crippling challenges to emancipated African Americans, as well as giving birth to some of America’s most enduring contributions to world culture, such as jazz, blues, country, and gospel music; Pentecostal religion; and the writings of Mark Twain and W.E.B. DuBois.


Enjoy Teaching of Rare Understanding and Insight

A distinguished scholar of the American South and of 19th-century American history, Professor Ayers is unusually well qualified to tell this story. A native of the South who has resided and studied in the North, Professor Ayers distills the narrative with nuanced insight into the ethos and the actions of both.

As an ongoing thread of the course, Professor Ayers uncovers the mindset of the advocates of slavery and segregation, and how the practices were rationalized and justified in terms encompassing the economic, theological, secular, political, and cultural. Along the way, his commentary highlights the factors of anti-slavery and anti-secession sentiment in the South, as well as the varieties of complicity in slavery in the North. The result is a revelatory look at Southern history, and at the critical events and historical currents that made the South what it is today.


Travel Deeply into a Seminal Era

In assessing the story of the South, you’ll focus on the period from the founding of the Southern colonies to the beginning of the 20th century, highlighting essential topics such as:

  • The Atlantic Slave Trade: Discover how the Atlantic slave trade, initiated by the Portuguese with the sanction of the Pope, was facilitated by African social systems in which both goods and human beings were items of exchange; learn about the mechanics of the slave trade, and how unimaginable wealth was created in the slave economies of the Caribbean;


  • The Forging of the Slave South: Follow the settling of the Southern colonies, and the economic conditions within Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia that made slavery a profitable business model; see how the slave economy expanded following the American Revolution, and how wars against both Native Americans and escaped slaves created solidarity among white Southerners;
  • Southern Prosperity and Culture: Witness the creation of the large-scale cotton economy that emblemized the South, and the remarkable wealth and lifestyles of plantation owners; learn how the enslaved lived and worked, the diversity of slaves’ occupations on plantations and within cities, and the ways in which slaves rebelled against a dehumanizing system;


  • Breakdown of the Union: Examine the events that marked the disintegrating relations between North and South, from the emancipation of the Northern states and the rise of antislavery and abolition movements to the heated struggles over slavery within Missouri, Kansas, and former Mexican lands, and the divisive presidential election of 1860;
  • Emancipation and the Experiment of Reconstruction: Learn how African Americans responded to emancipation in their quest for fundamental rights; relive the era of Reconstruction, and the bitter conflict between the North’s efforts to remake the South and white Southerners’ actions to reassert the power they held before the war; and


  • Segregation and the New South: Observe how political and legal means were employed across the postwar South to separate the races and maintain white supremacy; study the variety of social restrictions and violence that characterized African American life following Reconstruction; and learn how modern agriculture and industry transformed life in the New South.


Gain a Discerning Perspective on History

Professor Ayers brings to these lectures the same compelling style as a speaker that has made him a nationally recognized co-host of the history podcast BackStory. Throughout the course, he adds layers of revealing context and detail that aid in comprehending the extraordinary saga of the South.

In tracing the complexities of North/South relations, he reveals that Thomas Jefferson’s first draft of the Declaration of Independence vigorously denounced slavery, and that the Congress of the new nation both gave substantial concessions to slaveholders and worked to limit slavery’s geographical scope.

As the course progresses, you’ll explore the vital role of religious faith in Southern culture, learning how evangelical Christianity offered disparate benefits for black and white Southerners, and later became a major social force within the New South. And, within the landscape of the New South, you’ll follow the process by which Southern musical culture, encompassing genres such as blues, jazz, gospel, and country music, became a globally impactful form of expression.

In A New History of the American South, you’ll take a richly detailed excursion into the story and the enduring legacy of the South, in a historical inquiry unique in its scope. No book and no other course brings together the development of the slave South, the wartime South, the reconstructed South, and the New South as Professor Ayers does in these enthralling and incisive lectures. In Professor Ayers’s words, “We cannot understand the United States if we do not understand the South, which has played such an outsized role in the history of our country.”

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24 lectures
 |  Average 27 minutes each
  • 1
    The Geography of the American South
    Begin by previewing the four parts of the course that will recount the dramatic saga of the American South. Then, learn about the prehistory of the region, from its geographical features to the ancient peoples that settled it. Delve into the history of the chiefdoms that dominated the region before the arrival of Europeans, and trace the decimation of native populations that followed. x
  • 2
    The World of Slavery
    Investigate the complex origins of slavery in Africa, in social systems where human beings became commodities of exchange. Learn how the Atlantic slave trade was initiated by the Portuguese, and how it evolved into a system of vast economic gain, supplying labor for New World plantations. Note how Britain's American colonies were originally intended to function by means of English labor. x
  • 3
    Slavery Becomes American
    Examine economic conditions within Virginia before slavery, and growing discontent among English indentured laborers. Trace the rise of slavery in the British Caribbean, the factors that made it a practical business model in Virginia, and how colonists rationalized slaveholding. Observe how Virginia set the blueprint for slave society in what would become the American South. x
  • 4
    The Southern Colonies Take Root
    Learn about the apogee of the Atlantic slave trade, and how enslaved people adapted to their plight. Witness how Barbados planters spurred the colonization of the Carolinas as a thriving, slave-based rice economy, and follow the founding of Georgia and how it became a slave society. Take account of the society of the flourishing planter elite, and the factors that led to the American Revolution. x
  • 5
    Southern States in the New Nation
    Grasp how the events of the American Revolution affected the Southern colonies and their population of the enslaved. Learn about the implications of the new federal government and Constitution for the Southern states and slaveholders, and how Congress both granted concessions to the slave system and sought to restrict it. Follow the gradual emancipation of slaves in the Northern states. x
  • 6
    War, Uprising, and Southern Solidarity
    In the early 19th century, massive changes took place in the territories that became the South. Study the series of wars the new nation fought with the British, Native American factions, and escaped slaves in areas of what became Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. Note how the advent of these multiple conflicts involving both Native Americans and enslaved blacks ultimately forged a new unity among white Southerners. x
  • 7
    The Birth of the Cotton South
    Witness the dislocations, rebellion, and surging population of the enslaved in the South following the American Revolution. Learn how Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi were settled, and how both cotton and sugar became defining commodities of the Southern economy. Then, delve into the mechanics of the slave trade, in the large-scale importation of slaves into the lower South. x
  • 8
    Evangelical Faith in the South
    Here, assess the role of religion in the culture of Southern society and in the culture of slavery. Learn how British Anglicanism came to be replaced in the South by evangelical Christianity. Observe how this faith included blacks, and became a source of strength and survival for the enslaved, yet also reinforced, for whites, the social status quo and the conceptual justifications for slavery. x
  • 9
    Rebellion, Renewal: Tightening of Slavery
    Follow two significant slave rebellions in the early 19th century: the aborted South Carolina revolt led by the freed slave Denmark Vesey, and the famous Nat Turner rebellion in Virginia. Take account of the ensuing Virginia debates on slavery, culminating in harsher laws restricting blacks. Also, study the brutal, forced removal of Native Americans in the Southern states from their traditional lands. x
  • 10
    Arguments for and against Slavery
    Learn about the heated controversy over the admission of Missouri to the union as a slave state, and how this crisis polarized the country as never before. Trace the rise of abolitionism and antislavery societies, and the violent backlash of anti-abolitionists. Then, examine pro-slavery thought in the South, both secular and religious, within the context of pre-Civil War Southern intellectual life. x
  • 11
    A Restless South: Expansion and Conflict
    Relive the highly charged events surrounding the settlement of Texas by Americans and the Mexican-American War. Witness how the debate over slavery in former Mexican lands became a blistering national drama. Also, grasp the impact of the railroad and telegraph on the South, and the ways in which these technological innovations accelerated the divisions between North and South. x
  • 12
    Life in the Slave South
    Discover how American slavery became more diverse as it expanded over a huge area. Consider the wide variety of trades engaged in by the enslaved, and the complex mix of white and black cultures in the South. Learn more about the mechanics of slave trading, the terrible treatment of those sold, and how slaves lived and worked both on plantations and farms and within Southern cities. x
  • 13
    Sovereignty and Slavery in the American West
    With the slave economy booming in the 1850s, chart the escalation of antagonism between North and South. Observe the struggle within Kansas between pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces, and its eruption into violence, including the actions of abolitionist John Brown. Also, follow the Supreme Court case involving the slave Dred Scott, as it exacerbated the breakdown of North/South relations. x
  • 14
    The Complex Road to Secession
    Begin by exploring the presidential election of 1860, as it comprised the estrangement of North and South. Then, follow the Southern actions of secession, which many in the South resisted, the events surrounding Lincoln taking office, and the crisis at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Conclude by considering two key ways of thinking about the Civil War and what precipitated it. x
  • 15
    Elemental Loyalties and Descent into War
    Trace the events that led to the opening shots of the Civil War. Learn about both sides' initial strategy for the conflict, the mobilization of armies, and the role of women in the war effort. Take account of the crippling impact of the war on the Southern economy, and grasp the inconsistencies, justifications, and misconceptions on both sides that fueled the unfolding of the war. x
  • 16
    End of War and of Slavery
    Learn about how slaves fared and adapted as the war progressed, and how Union forces made use of the enslaved to further their aims. At the war's conclusion, examine the actions of freed blacks, and their efforts to secure basic rights. Contemplate the divisive national climate during the initial phase of Reconstruction, as many Southerners appeared to deny the matters that the war had decided. x
  • 17
    Reconstruction and the Freedmen's Bureau
    Study the work of the Freedmen’s Bureau, as it oversaw the transition from slavery to a wage economy, amid fervent resistance to attempts to remake the South. With the passage of the 14th Amendment and the Reconstruction Act, trace the era of “Radical Reconstruction,” as enmity, violence, and electioneering gradually returned the Southern states to Southern Democratic control. x
  • 18
    The Landscape of the New South
    Far-reaching structural changes transformed the South following Reconstruction. Follow the huge expansion of railroads, which connected Southern towns and cities, as well as North with South. See also how the rise of country stores changed the economic and cultural landscape. Observe the remarkable proliferation of new villages and towns across the South, and the rise of Southern industries. x
  • 19
    Farmers and the Rise of Populism
    Witness the advent of modern agriculture in the South, and how enterprising rural workers could achieve land ownership. Grasp how overcrowding, falling prices for crops, and competition led to terrible hardships for farmers. Then, delve into the highly charged era of Populism, as farmers organized to redress their problems in a bitter struggle against monopoly capitalism. x
  • 20
    The Invention of Segregation
    Trace the origins of legal separation between the races, a defining trait of the South through much of the 20th century. First, examine the issue of segregation regarding railroad travel, and the first wave of segregation laws. See how segregation then spread to include numerous social gathering points, and how sexual contact between the races became a contested issue on both sides. x
  • 21
    Lynching and Disfranchisement
    Study the climate of violence in the New South, amid widespread economic and political turmoil. Observe how lynching became, for whites, a means of countering weak governments and terrorizing blacks into submission. Then, learn how the South embarked on a constitutional disfranchisement of black voters, constructing legal means to limit suffrage and ensure white supremacy. x
  • 22
    Religious Faith in the New South
    Delve into the remarkable growth of religion in the late 19th-century South, and how the region came to be known as the “Bible Belt.” Learn about the proliferation of religious revivals, and the rise of the “holiness” movement, Pentecostalism, and the Church of God, religious factions that sought a more-vital faith, challenged tradition, and ultimately spread across the world. x
  • 23
    Literature and Music of the New South
    The making of the New South unleashed extraordinary creative and artistic energies. Investigate the vibrant musical culture of the postbellum South, and the African musical elements that converged in the birth of ragtime and jazz, as well as the evolution of blues, country music, and gospel. Also, see why writings ranging from The Tales of Uncle Remus to W.E.B. DuBois's Souls of Black Folk achieved global popularity. x
  • 24
    The Legacies of the Southern Saga
    Finally, explore the fabric of life in the South as the 19th century ended and the 20th began. Investigate the work of educator Booker T. Washington; the impact on race relations of the Spanish-American War; the Plessy decision, giving government sanction to segregation; and the emerging Cult of the Confederacy. Contemplate the South as a place of ongoing movement, struggle, and renewal. x

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Your professor

Edward L. Ayers

About Your Professor

Edward L. Ayers, Ph.D.
University of Richmond
Edward L. Ayers is the Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities at the University of Richmond. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, summa cum laude, and his PhD in American Studies from Yale University. Professor Ayers has written or edited 12 books on the history of 19th-century America. He is the author of The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the...
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A New History of the American South is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 66.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from fresh info on popular topic watched in a short period of time, not my usual habit, held my interest
Date published: 2020-04-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A New History of the American South While the information presented was interesting and useful, this series is mistitled. It is instead primarily a history of slavery and treatment of blacks in the South. Although that is important, there is certainly more to the history of the American South, which unfortunately was largely disregarded. And there were very few images presented on this video course other than of the lecturer speaking.
Date published: 2020-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course This look at Southern history has all the interest and intrigue that characterizes the best in history instruction/learning. This course is profusely illustrated and presented in an easy-going style (slight southern accent??) that communicates in such a way as to make learning history anything but dry and pedantic.
Date published: 2020-01-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from History of the South The tile was misleading. It was not a history of the South, only a portion its history. It was a history of slavery which should have be included in the title. Yes, by reading the material beyond the title that would have been made clear. Nevertheless, I stand by my point.
Date published: 2019-12-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good course ! The Professor is excellent and knows his subject matter. The professor was easy to understand and follow. The course covers the basics of the American South from Columbus to present day. If you wanted more information and details about Antebellum, Reconstruction and its aftermath and Slavery you can do research and reading on your own. This course was introductory. Well organized and well presented.
Date published: 2019-11-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good course, wrong title I enjoyed the class-- however, I think it should have been called "a history of race relations in the American south." There was one lecture out of 24 that was largely devoted to literature and another that was largely devoted to religion. Almost every other lecture (and even those, to a large extent) focused on racial issues. While these are interesting (and, no doubt, a perfectly reasonable subject for a course), I would have expected that a course entitled "A New History of the American South" might have had a broader focus.
Date published: 2019-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Native Americans and A New History of the American This is my 1st year teaching US History to 11th grade students and when i viewed the text book realized there was little real content. These two courses provide excellent course material for what really happened in the history re. Native Americans and Slavery.
Date published: 2019-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Instructive Am enjoying the new perspective. A very knowledgeable professor.
Date published: 2019-09-08
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Nothing New, major omissions Entertaining, but nothing new about the "A New History of the South." Critical issues often not even mentioned: role of tariffs in Civil War, role of Rothschild banking and England/France in creating divisions between North and South so that a weaker two nations would be easier to manipulate than a strong one nation,etc. Charles Dickens famously noted that "Union means so many millions a year lost to the South; secession means the loss of the same millions to the North. The love of money is the root of this as of many other evils". Economic drivers were critical. Lincoln's blatant racism believing slaves must be sent back to Africa because they were an inferior race and could not live in a civilized society was not even mentioned. Disappointing that so much now known about the drivers of Southern history was not used and same old story just rehashed. Entertaining storyteller but lacks academic rigor and in my view, critical accuracy.
Date published: 2019-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The title was descriptive. Before viewing this course, I knew very little about the events leading up to the war as well as the events after the war. The multiple post-war effects in our country remain with us today.
Date published: 2019-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unique perspective Clear understanding on the development of the American South from geography, slavery issues, population changes, seccession philosophy and cultural changes, all through an interesting presentation.
Date published: 2019-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Holds interest and is worthwhile I am not an academic but am interested in a wide variety of topics. This instructor has a good style and presents information in a well organized manner, each lecture building in an orderly way. He does not have any annoying characteristics. Well done.
Date published: 2019-04-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Uneven and Not Really New I had high hopes for this course and to a moderate extent I was not disappointed. After all, a course book and disk package that has Stonewall Jackson on the cover cannot be all bad and might even suggest that the course would be more informative of the much broader contribution of the American South than is presented here. Alas, not the case. Background alert: My father's side of my family settled in the Carolina's in the early 1700's and ended up in Georgia by the 1740's. All the information available indicates that the family never owned slaves; nonetheless, great great granddaddy and a whole bunch of other ancestors fought for Georgia in the War Between the States. I am an amateur historian and I participate in battle reenactments. That said, I was not expecting Professor Ayers, who is an impressive lecturer, to espouse the Lost Cause; the debate over the causes of that unfortunate and unnecessary event could be the topic of another course. I was disappointed that the course failed to spend much time discussing the integration of the South as an economic and cultural region into the the history of the British colonies and then the early United States. While a great deal of time was spent covering the introduction of slavery into the South (as well as the other colonies) and the subsequent growth of the slave bases economy, there was no mention of the fact that the products of that economy were essential to the growth of the country (there was a reason that Virginia was the richest colony). The North made a lot of noise but the South was where the wealth was located. Instead of telling us how many slaves were transported from one place to another or how the Cherokees and other Indians were displaced (the latter following practices developed in the North) it would have been helpful to discuss the impact of the foreign trade revenue that came about from cotton, etc. A useful thought experiment would be to consider whether there would have been a United States without the South. Moving on, the treatment of so-called Reconstruction was decidedly one sided. While much of the information presented was relatively new or at least updated, the course takes the position, intentionally or not, that the South needed to be reconstructed. It did but only because of the destruction brought about by Union armies. The course treatment of the Reconstruction and later years is well done but fails to address the issues from the standpoint of all southerners, not just former slaves. I would recommend this course to a friend and will give it an average grade but only because it may be useful in raising the abysmal level of education about the South and the history of that region; only then can we have have a rational discussion about a New History. Just my opinion, of course.
Date published: 2019-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb course! I heard Prof. Ayers lecture on the Civil War at the Chautauqua Institution several years ago and was very impressed. I knew that a full length course on The South taught by him would be great, and it is terrific. He has deep knowledge of his subject.
Date published: 2019-03-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Modern perspective without prejudice We feared a revisionist approach, but were happy that the professor did not obliterate the historical context. The course was informative and, while it did not sugar coat the facts, it did not take the view that since-accumulated experience and newer viewpoints are the standard by which to judge the past.
Date published: 2019-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from New Perspective Various things I thought I learned in school (the Civil War was about tariffs, States' rights, but not really about slavery) are completely shattered in these lectures. We are led through the developments leading up the war in a way we never learned. It also explains how the shadows of the past still affect us today.
Date published: 2019-02-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from I doubt he spent much time in their south The course seems to be given/written from the viewpoint of a northern sympathizer who never spent much time in the south nor took any of the south’s viewpoint into consideration regarding the civil war. Very general stuff. Very few specifics. Really had to stop halfway through the lectures. Learned very little that I hadn’t alreaAdy heard or read before. Disappointing.
Date published: 2019-01-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from New history of the South The professor is a liberal university professor who spends lots of time on how rich planters in the South oppressed the slaves and how they wiped out Indians and pushed them off their lands. I had hoped for a balanced history that discussed the history of the farmers and merchants who did not own slaves and who built the South. A course on Southern history from a conservative professor ( at say Liberty University) would be a good antidote to this course. A liberal who wants lots of guilt about the people who built the South will love this course.
Date published: 2019-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well worth it! As overseas residents who thought we had a pretty fair idea of the history of the south, we discovered we had a lot to learn! Our disparate pockets of knowledge were brought together with a host of new material in this course. We enjoyed the presentation style of Professor Ayers who was animated, clear and informed. He is obviously enthusiastic about this subject and brought this to the audience.
Date published: 2019-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The title is spot on. Truely a "new" approach. Dr. Ayers provides an engaging discussion and analysis of the southern story that incorporates both the best and troubling aspects of the region's social, political, and economic experiences. He gives credit for the political, agrarian, and military contributions made by southerners. He also faces fairly and openly the troubling aspects of the social and economic exploitation that emerged and lingered for to long. His approach is both fair and balanced.
Date published: 2019-01-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Misleading. Review lecture summaries before buying Things that impressed me: -Sound overview of major political events in the South in the 1800s -Lecturer appears qualified and credible (loved the drawl) -Informative account of the development of slavery in the American South -Dispels a few misconceptions ( "A higher percentage of city dwellers belonged to churches than did people in the countryside", "Freedman's bureau ended up supporting landowners as often as black laborers"...) Things that disappointed me: -Dominated by discussions about slavery The title should be changed to "Slavery and Reconstruction in the American South" or something similar. It is misleading, for example, to have a picture of Confederate Soldier as cover art when none of the lectures are devoted to the Civil War. I would have like to have heard more about how other ethnic groups arrived in the South (English, German, French, and others) over time (before the Revolution and during the gilded age for example) -Could have used more geography Professor Ayers uses geographical terms throughout the course (like "the low country"), but I wanted more information about how the sates that make up the south got their boundaries and about the families and industries that held power there over time. I grew up in North Carolina and I am familiar with the development of my state, but less so with states like Alabama and Arkansas. The power or regionalism seemed relevant in a course about the south. I know there is a lot to cover, but I was expecting a little more on this in a twenty four lecture series. -Lacks convincing portrayals of perspectives The points made about slavery and reconstruction are predictable. There was never a moment when the lecturer challenges us to see actions we view as immoral today, like arguments for secession or support for Disfranchisement, or the terror of the Klan through the eyes of people who viewed them as moral in the 1800s and 1900s. I also would have liked more about how the South was viewed by Foreigners. -Lacks global comparisons (Big History). Many students may disagree, but I often find it helpful when historians make quick comparisons between societies to make a point. Many societies had Anti-miscegenation laws before the South. It would have helped me understand their harsh nature to have them compared with similar laws abroad. Recommendation: Please look through the lecture summaries carefully before buying this course to see if it answers the questions you have.
Date published: 2019-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course even for advanced students I've written extensively about the history of the South, including travel articles to Richmond and Atlanta, which has outstanding Civil War museums. Never the less, I had my knowledge very much enriched by Ayers' piecing together of the total puzzle, from literature to Jim Crow. Everyone would benefit from listening to this.
Date published: 2019-01-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not sure it was a "new" history Excellent content, but this topic would really need many more "chapters" to be totally be covered, However giver the time restriction, presenter did an excellent job
Date published: 2019-01-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing This course would be more accurately titled “The History of European Exploitation in the American South.” That is an important theme in history, which was largely absent from my early education, and needs to be told. But it appears to be an obsession with much of academe these days to the exclusion of equally vital stories. There were heroes, villains, and mostly normal folk of all stripes just as there are today. I expected a more nuanced discussion of how widely divergent and highly combative European ethnic and religious groups—English, Irish, Scotch Irish, German, etc.—came together under difficult circumstances to form a unique Southern culture; how Africans and Native Americans contributed to that process. And how they all helped lay the foundation for the freest and most egalitarian nation in history, which has within a few generations mostly resolved the severe prejudices and iniquities of the past. Most of these lectures focus excessively but superficially on how badly European immigrants treated Africans and Native Americans. There is much more to the story of the South than that.
Date published: 2018-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant and highly informative First, I hope that Prof Ayers does many more courses for the TC; his course on the American South is superb. He's a gifted lecturer, and I found each lecture informative and a delight to listen to. I have extensive knowledge of American, and learned a lot in this course. Prof Ayers covers the culture, economics, and history of the South from its pre-history, to the early European settles, through the American Revolution, the run up to the Civil War, Reconstruction, right up to today. The course is full of extremely interesting insights about culture, economics, and daily life. Prof Ayers covers, quite openly and honestly, the ugliness of slavery, the failure of Reconstruction to provide fully equal rights after the Civil War, the introduction of segregation, and other painful aspects of US history.
Date published: 2018-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ENGROSSING STORY, TOLD NICELY The material was presented in a logical and entertaining fashion. It held my attention. Highly recommended
Date published: 2018-12-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well done but.. I really like Prof Ayers. His course development is well prepared and his presentation skills are the best. This topic is not and easy one to to approach, and the prof did a very good job. For me it was still very much tilted toward the plight of the slave and all the injustices the haves invoked on the have not's. There still has to be more to the hundreds of years of life in the southern US that dealt with waking up each morning, enjoying the day, worrying about the crops, learning to build a life, and family, teaching your kids, learning a trade. Thats what I was hoping for. The course was very informative, and learned a lot. Thanks One side note, I dont care for the new packaging. Stacking all the discs on one post is awkward. Previous sets had each disc in its own place and was much better to keep organized and safe.Please dont let the economy of a few cents saved in packaging ruin a wonderful product.
Date published: 2018-12-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent lecturer! This professor is excellent. He was clear and concise and covered every aspect of the culture. His talks brought so much into focus and explained so much of the origins of what I experience today in the south. The closed captioning made the course much more accessible to me.
Date published: 2018-12-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Meh This course isn’t really bad, but it just does not have the pizzazz that one expects from the The Great Courses (TGC) offerings. While this course covers the American South from humanoids crossing the Bering Strait bridge into America all the way to the end of the Gilded Age, the preponderance of the course is devoted to slavery from Colonial America to Reconstruction. This is an important topic in and of itself but it seemed to me that it overlooked or underplayed other important social and anthropological issues. It addressed the usual facts, it told the usual stories, and it drew the usual conclusions. Dr. Ayers is himself a Southerner (judging from his drawl). He speaks in a soft, slow voice, which may sap energy from his presentations. He is generally objective, acknowledging where there are differences of scholarly opinion. He does draw judgments on some issues such as slavery, lynching, etc. Curiously, Dr. Ayers described how the Battle of New Orleans influenced negotiations of the Treaty of Ghent. The Treaty of Ghent was signed on December 24, 1814 and the Battle of New Orleans was fought on January 8, 1815. I listened to the audio version. I doubt that the video version would anything of substance.
Date published: 2018-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from More Complex Than I had Realized Black history and the Antebellum South and eventual segregation are areas of history that myself a Northwesterner am lacking in. This Course fills that in and much more. Should be required for all US citizens!
Date published: 2018-12-08
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