HS1RUS-Rape in the United States: from Colonisation to Civil Rights

Module Provider: History
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Prof Emily West

Email: e.r.west@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module is optional for SINGLE HONOURS STUDENTS ONLY.


This module aims to familiarise students with the changing definitions of rape across US history. Tracing social movements, legal changes, and establishment backlash, the module aims for students to explore and understand how ideas of rape are created in different historical contexts, and to examine its importance in crafting ideas of gender, race and sexuality. This module aims for students to explore: what is rape?; who defines rape?; and how has rape been used as a tool of social oppression?

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that students will be able to:

• identify the sources of the topic in question

• trace its historical development

• be aware of differing historiographical interpretations of the pattern and causes of this development

• understand how ideas and events are shaped by their historical contexts

• organise material and articulate arguments effectively in writing, both under timed conditions and in assessed coursework

• demonstrate familiarity with bibliographical conventions and mastery of library skills.

Additional outcomes:

The module also aims:

• to encourage students to think independently 

• to help students develop good oral and written communication skills 

• to develop the effectiveness of students in group situations 

• to develop IT skills through the use of relevant resources. 

Outline content:

This module begins by examining current legal and social understandings of rape in the US, exploring recent high-profile cases to examine ideas of respectability, victimhood and criminality. Students will then explore how definitions of rape have developed across US history. Seminars, focused on the colonial period through to the Civil War, will examine the role of slavery in determining ideas of gender, race and sexuality, as well as exploring differing ideas of womanhood across the US and early legal definitions of rape. Seminars focusing on the Reconstruction period through to the Civil Rights Movement will examine how demands for equality challenged prevailing ideas of rape, and explore the backlash to these challenges. This module will also introduce students to the work of feminist and intersectional theorists who have engaged with the problem of sexual violence, and make use of primary sources from the 18th to the 20th centuries in weekly readings.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Teaching is by eight two-hour seminars over one term. Students are reminded to email their tutors for help and advice whenever needed and to note office hours.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 16
Tutorials 10
Guided independent study 74
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 50

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Written exam 50% 

one 1-hour unseen paper requiring 1 answer

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Written assignment 50%:

1 written assignment of c. 1,250 words, to be submitted once via Blackboard on Turnitin, by 12 noon on the submission deadline in Week 11 specified on the module site on Blackboard.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Where a re-sit is permitted, students will be assessed on the failed element(s) only in August. Any element(s) already passed will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Any element which is re-sat in August is capped at 40%. Failed coursework must be re-submitted by 12 noon, on the last Friday of August.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 25 September 2018


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