• Class Number 7123
  • Term Code 3160
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Mark Dawson
    • Dr Mark Dawson
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 26/07/2021
  • Class End Date 29/10/2021
  • Census Date 14/09/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/08/2021
    • Dr Mark Dawson
SELT Survey Results

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; and eugenics and genocide.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. explain the origin and development of racial thinking in Europe, the Americas, and Australasia;
  2. critically evaluate scholarship on the history of race and racism, the human body, and the social/life sciences;
  3. locate and analyse primary sources to generate insights into the past;
  4. complete an individual research project; and
  5. articulate their critical understanding of the past and relate it to both the wider historiography and present-day concerns.

Required Resources

Other than the expectation that students will either print out copies of the primary sources for tutorials or have them to hand on laptops or tablets, there are no materials (e.g. published textbooks) required for purchase for this course. Secondary readings for tutorial preparation will also be available in Wattle in e–form.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Advice on Completing Coursework

Book Review

This exercise aims to give you practice engaging closely with historiography by asking you to choose a monograph and write an informed, scholarly review of it. Therefore, your review will probably be rather different from book reports you may have written before (“I liked this book because...”).

To get an initial sense of what’s required, pick up (or download) a recent issue of one of the main journals you may well already be using in this or another History course (e.g. American Historical ReviewJournal of British Studies, Isis) and turn to the ‘Reviews’ section. You’ll notice that most reviews do the following (and yours certainly should):

1.        Assume a particular audience. In this case, assume your review is for someone specifically interested in the history of race (that is, the construction of the social categories we will be examining  throughout the course). An important initial consideration could be how the study defines or conceptualises race.

2.        Summarize the book’s argument or thesis. This is not so much a synopsis of the book’s topic or content (e.g. “This is a book about phrenology in Victorian Britain”), as a terse summary of the claims that your author makes for their topic (e.g. “van Wyhe argues that phrenology became a popular craze in nineteenth–century Britain because...”).

3.        Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the thesis. To do this, you’ll be posing the same sorts of questions you ask yourself when framing your research proposal:

o   what primary sources are available/used? Are these sources (either types or archived collections of) which have gone largely unexamined until now? If the sources are not new in themselves, have they been interpreted by a fresh pair of eyes and put to innovative use?

o   what is the relation of the book to the wider historiography on its main topic? Has the author filled a gap in our knowledge? To what extent does the book seek to revise our current understanding?

o   how well is the book put together? In other words, there’s a place for modest comment on style, structure, format and presentation if these help or hinder the book’s argument; its coherence, comprehensibility, and comprehensiveness.

4.       Remember the word–limit. Part of the art of a review is exactly that – writing a short, incisive critique. Waffle is probably a sign that you haven’t reached the heart of the matter.

o   paraphrase tersely and use direct quotes from the book very sparingly, ‘anchoring’ these with accurate, precise page references in brackets in the main text.

o   you may occasionally need to refer to other book(s) on the same topic, especially when sketching out the wider historiography. You may make careful use of footnote references to refer to these other books.

5.        Head your review with details of author, title, and publication. That way you can refer to the book/author under discussion succinctly thereafter.

In modelling your review on those in an academic journal, it may help to search a journals database, bibliography or archive for the review of another title you have read recently. Indeed, you may find reviews for your monograph – by all means read these,  but do so in accordance with academic integrity/referencing protocols.

Suggested titles are listed below in tutorial order. Therefore, they are also in broadly chronological sequence. You can often use tools like the Library of Congress online catalogue or Google Books to compare your options in terms of content and coverage. If you wish to browse and select your own title, you might also begin with the ‘Race in Action’ section of the weekly bibliographies. You would need to select a monograph study, not a collection of scholarly essays.

Research Proposal ­– as a particular kind of writing

Keep in mind that our Workshops will be an opportunity to elaborate on the advice which follows. 

You should write a prose description, with a preliminary bibliography appended, which considers the following issues:


1.      What’s your essay about? This is the core of any proposal. You must outline the question, or hypothesis, for investigation and explain your anticipated approach, or ‘angle’.

2.     Who has considered the topic, if not the question, before? You will have to survey existing, recent work on your topic. This survey is sometimes referred to more generally as a literature review. 

       Though your preparatory work may adopt this technique, or your working bibliography is annotated, your final proposal should avoid merely itemising/summarising books in turn:  “Historian X has said ‘abc’ about my topic”... By contrast, Historian Y contends ‘123’.” This is not an effective literature review. 

       Instead, your proposal should identify the main contours or common themes of current, scholarly understanding on your topic and then start to position your essay. In other words, will your essay fill a gap in our understanding? Or are there, in fact, problems with existing historiography such that your essay aims to revise, to correct, a prevalent misunderstanding in the historiography?

3.     How has this question been answered before, if at all? In short, what primary sources will you be using to answer your question. This is critical, as a research essay, by definition, must rely mainly on your interpretation of original materials rather than present a synthesis of secondary analysis written by others. You may find that your primary sources have not been used to address your question before. Or it could be that you are aiming to ‘re–read’ sources already connected with your topic. Either way, you need to describe your archive by indicating your main type of material, give a ball–park estimate of its size (e.g. are you reading a handful of texts closely or will you be data–mining newspapers from a particular decade?), note how/where you will access this material.

4.     Proposals can also sometimes benefit from considering Why it matters? (i.e. discussing broader historiographical or theoretical issues), or What other connections could I make? (i.e. speculate on additional evidence you might track down, or how your approach might draw on those used in another field of history or another discipline – say sociology or literary studies).

5.     Your preliminary bibliography should provide full details for at least 5 primary sources and 5 secondary sources (the latter published mainly after c.1990). If your topic is such that fewer items are listed, the proposal should offer an explanation. Your bibliography does notcount towards the word–limit associated with this exercise. You can make modest use of annotations on the bibliography and organise it thematically if you wish.


Other pointers:

·         While you need not read every page of every source at this stage, it’s critical you do a fair amount of research in preparing your proposal. Do not attempt to write the proposal by using one source or by ‘re–writing’ out of another book. 

·         By all means use the weekly reading lists supplied above as a starting point, and consider a line of enquiry which engages with one of the broader questions raised in lectures. However, your submission needs to describe specific parameters and research strategies. Likewise, the bibliography must be a considered one – not the “top ten” Google hits on the general subject.

·         It’s also important that you make effective use of material available in, or (digital) resources accessible from, Canberra. You should speak with me if you will have access to collections elsewhere; in Sydney or Melbourne for instance. 


What happens about/after submission of the Proposal?

·         I will be assuming that everyone reads my comments on their proposal before they get stuck into the essay itself. In some cases, I may indicate in writing that individual consultation is required to discuss modification of the research before it goes any further/is considered “approved”.

·         Sessions have been set aside for group/individual discussion of your research. Ideally, you should be able to ‘network’ with those working on similar topics... even arrange to read each other’s work as it progresses. 

·         It’s inevitable for your research to shift a little as it progresses – sources are added, or subtracted if you find some are more worthy of close reading; the emphasis changes (your geographic or temporal coverage may expand/contract); your final analysis may not be quite what you expected. If, however, you find yourself wanting to rewrite your question completely or, more critically, change topics, then you should contact me as soon as possible.


Research Essay – to which the Proposal leads

Workshops early in the semester should help you get to grips with writing a research essay, particularly one based in this field of History. You will also have opportunities to discuss your work once it gets under way. However, I offer these initial strategies for formulating a topic:

1.        ‘Aim small’; or remember that race can operate on any scale. Realize that you probably won’t have the time or space to consider densely researched fields or broad periods (e.g. Nazi anti–semitism or Enlightenment orientalism). Take your interest in a particular period or situation and look for ways to focus it into something manageable. Focus strategies include:

·         selecting a particular source or genre (e.g. early Boy Scout manuals or children’s stories for insight into the links between British empire and racial thinking?)

·         choosing a group that is still fairly marginal in historiography (e.g. racist perceptions of the Roma in Nazi–occupied Europe?)

·         concentrating on a period/place that is less likely to have received much attention (e.g. ‘white’ attitudes to the Japanese c.1875–1925–compare c.1930–45; British attitudes to Jews in the early 20th century).

·         examining a particular locale or community and the role of racial divisions therein (e.g. the Victorian goldfields).

·         picking a particular thinker and exploring how his or her racial ideas were the product of a specific socio–cultural context. 

·         tracing the intersection of racial thinking with other inequalities (e.g. class–ed, gender–ed, sex–ed) and a context with which you’re already familiar (e.g. is it significant that suffragettes were ‘white’?).

2. ‘Think, process’; or ask how and why racial thinking has operated. We will stress throughout the course that race/racism involve cultural processes of social discrimination, processes that upon closer examination are often incomplete and contradictory. Therefore it should be possible to compare and contrast how this process manifested itself in different times and places. For instance:

·         what about manifestations of antiracism; how did people combat racism (and was their position truly anti–racial, did it reject notions of race completely or merely try to redefine racial ‘characters’?). 

·         how did those oppressed by racism view their situation? (e.g. Anti–slavery–abolitionist views of Africans in the 19th century; Black Power in 1960s America).

·         what about situations we’ve not had time to consider directly in the course but derive from the thinking and practices we’ve discussed (e.g. early nineteenth–century Australia; later twentieth–century Rwanda – which is to say think of sites of European colonialism, the attempt to build ‘neo–Europes’ abroad in places like South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, or India). Alternatively, you might consider a comparative history such as the practice of eugenics in Latin versus North America, asking why an array of ideas about race could co–exist.

·         we’ve focussed on how and why western Europeans and their descendants have adopted jaundiced views of non–Europeans. What about reversing the perspective? (e.g. how have the Chinese viewed Europeans and can these views be considered an ‘eastern’ racism?)

More schematically, when thinking of race as a social construct or ideological category, ask:

·         WHAT physical contrasts were being drawn?

·         WHO was drawing (attention to) these distinctions? 

·         HOW were these contrasts being drawn? 

·         WHY were these distinctions given meaning, and to what ends?

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 What is “Race” & How Do We Study Its History? Mapping out coursework choices
2 Status Quo Ante: the Medieval Chain of Being Writing the history of ideas, science, race
3 Reconquest & Revelation; Renaissance & Reformation Research proposals and essays
4 Scientific Revolution & Rational Society “Sons of Adam” & racism c.1450–1650
5 The Discovery of Life & Matter over Mind “Black” slavery & racism c.1650–1750
6 The Evolution of Social Darwinism “Caucasian” freedom & racism c.1750–1850
7 Finding Cells at the Fin de Siècle Research consultations
8 Eugenics and Blood Redux “Neanderthal” Celts & racism c.1850–1900
9 Eugenics, or the Catastrophe of a Racial Biology “Aryan” Anti–Semites and racism c.1900–1950
10 Research colloquium: details tba. Seminar Presentations
11 Research colloquium: details tba. Seminar Presentations
12 The End of Scientific Racism? Seminar Presentations

Tutorial Registration

via Wattle

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Book Review 20 % * * 1, 2, 5
Research Proposal 10 % 02/09/2021 17/09/2021 1, 3
Tutorial Presentation 10 % * * 1, 2, 5
Research Essay 60 % 08/11/2021 02/12/2021 1, 4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 5

Book Review

•    1000 words

•    20% of the final grade. 

•    Presentation requirements: double-line spaced on numbered A4 pages in doc. or docx. format. A sample grading rubric will be available on Wattle and further written advice about how to approach this assessment appears below. 

•    Due: 1 calendar week (@5pm) after we have discussed the book and/or its immediate historical context in tutorials.

You will write a book review of one text related to one of the tutorial topics. Suggested titles are:

Week 4 tutorial: “Sons of Adam” & racism c.1450–1650

v  Resnick, I.M., Marks of Distinction. Christian Perceptions of Jews in the High Middle Ages (Washington, DC, 2012) ebook

Week 5 tutorial: “Black” Slavery & racism c.1650–1750

v Foote, T.W., Black and White Manhattan. The History of Racial Formation in Colonial New York City (New York, 2004). F128.9.A1 F66 2004

v Gerbner, K., Christian Slavery. Conversion and Race in the Protestant Atlantic World (Philadelphia, 2018). ebook

Week 6 tutorial: “Caucasian” Freedom & racism c.1750–1850

v  Anderson, K., Race and the Crisis of Humanism (London, 2007). ebook

v  Horsman, R., Race and Manifest Destiny. Origins of American Racial Anglo–Saxonism (Cambridge, MA, 1981). E179.5.H69 or* Parkinson, R.G., Thirteen Clocks. How Race United the Colonies and Made the Declaration of Independence (Chapel Hill, 2021). pending


Week 8 tutorial: “Neanderthal” Celts & racism c.1850–1900

v  Jacobson, M.F., Whiteness of a Different Color. European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge, MA, 1998). E184.E95 J33 1998


v  Love, E., Race over Empire. Racism and U.S. Imperialism, 1865–1900 (Chapel Hill, 2004). E661.7 .L685 2004

Week 9 tutorial: “Aryan” Anti–Semites and racism c.1900–1950

v  Ehrenreich, E., The Nazi Ancestral Proof. Genealogy, Racial Science, and the Final Solution (Bloomington, 2007). ebook (also 1 hardcopy)

v  Goldhagen, D.J., Hitler’s Willing Executioners. Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (New York, 1996/7). D804.3.G648 1997

Assessment Task 2

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 02/09/2021
Return of Assessment: 17/09/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 3

Research Proposal

·       1000 words

·       10% of the final grade, but see also tutorial participation/presentation below.

·       Presentation requirements: double-line spaced on numbered A4 pages in doc. or docx. format. A sample grading rubric will be available on Wattle and further written advice about how to approach this assessment appears later in this outline; will be discussed at week 3’s tutorial. 

·       Due: Thursday 02 September (@5pm).

Your final Research Essay will not be accepted unless you have attempted the proposal exercise.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 5

Tutorial Presentation

·       10% of the final grade

·       Due: during 11–29 October tutorials.

·       You will give a short seminar presentation on your work in the closing weeks of the semester (5%). Depending on the preferences of the tutorial groups, this presentation might be:

·       an 8–10 minute summary of your work, followed by questions

·       a joint presentation on related research topics by two (or more) people – a panel discussion

·       a group critique of pre–circulated material – perhaps a sample of the kind of primary sources you’ve been using.

You will also be rostered for attendance at a seminar where you will be a discussant, that is, raise questions, act as commentator on a classmate’s presentation, or otherwise participate as an informed observer (5%). Some credit will also be available for responding to presentations online (e.g. by posting comments or further questions to the Wattle forum, usually within 24 hours of the presentation). 


If you are absent from seminars, we may need to consider alternative forms of participation (e.g. a powerpoint/podcast uploaded to Wattle, to which 2–3 members of the group respond online). Supporting documentation (e.g. EAP; medical certificate) would be expected.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 60 %
Due Date: 08/11/2021
Return of Assessment: 02/12/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 4

Research Essay

·       4000 words

·       60% of the final grade. 

·       Presentation requirements: double-line spaced on numbered A4 pages in doc. or docx. format. A sample grading rubric will be available on Wattle 

·       Due: Monday 8 November @5pm.

It’s critical that you treat the other, earlier coursework requirements as preparatory work for this Essay. Marking Rubrics will be used and samples made available via Wattle prior to the submission of work. 

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission not permitted. If submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date is not permitted, a mark of 0 will be awarded.
  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Mark Dawson

Research Interests

Early modern Anglo/European social and cultural history

Dr Mark Dawson

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Dr Mark Dawson

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Dr Mark Dawson

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Dr Mark Dawson

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Dr Mark Dawson

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