A Murder Trial as Social History:

South Carolina v. Martin Posey

AMH 3930

Keene-Flint 113

© Elizabeth Dale 2005



Professor:        Elizabeth Dale

Office hours:        Wed        10-11 AM (at law school)

1:30-3:00 PM (at Keene-Flint)

                                Thurs      10-11 AM (at Keene-Flint)

                                and by appointment


Offices:                  224 at Keene-Flint

                                240E at Law School

Phone:                   392-0271

Email:              edale@history.ufl.edu





Required texts:             South Carolina v. Martin Posey

(course pack, available at University Copy Center on University Avenue)

Bardaglio, Reconstructing the Household

Bynum, Unruly Women

Burton, In My Father’s House

Ayers, Vengeance and Justice

Lebsock, Murder in Virginia

Wayne, Death of an Overseer


Sample bibliography

Sample footnote form




Since this course is designed to teach you about historical research and have you do a significant research project, there are two types of assignments. The first type (research practice) are short assignments intended to introduce you to various tools in the library and on line. The second type (paper projects) are geared towards helping you define a paper topic and prepare your paper. The different projects and the percent of your grade they represent are listed below.


Your final paper for the class should be a research paper on a trial (a list of possible trials and some other resources are below). It should be 20 pages long, double spaced 12 pt type, with a bibliography and proper footnotes.


            Research practice (each of these assignments is worth 2 points)


1.      Journal project, due week 2

2.      Book review project, due week 3

3.      Case project, due week 4

4.      Primary source project, due week 5

5.      Article project, due week 6


Total points for these assignmetns:        10 points


Paper projects (these assignments are worth different points, the number is in the parenthesis):


1.      Preliminary topic proposal, due week 3 (2.5 points)

2.      Specific topic proposal, due week 5 (2.5 points)

3.      Bibliography, due week 7 (worth 5 points)

4.      Oral presentation, due week 10-11 (worth 15 points)

5.      Draft paper, due week 13 (worth 15 points)

6.      Final paper, due Tuesday December 17 (worth 50 points)


Total points for these assignments:        90 points


Total points possible:                                      100 points


Recommended paper topics:


Students should pick a trial transcript from this list of materials in the UF library, or from the online resource at Harvard Law Library (for access to the Harvard collection follow the link, at the bottom on the page you are sent to, you will  find a button marked “connect,” click on that button. You will be sent to another page, on the left hand side click on the link for Advanced Search. When you are redirected, at the pull down “search for” menu select “Document type” and click search. On the next page, you will see a number of options, check the last two: trial accounts and trial records. This will give you a list of trial materials, which you may review and use for your assignment.)


It is best if only one student do research based on a single trial, so I will approve trial topics on a first come, first served basis.



First week


            Introduction to the course

Journal assignment  given out (due by 8PM Tuesday)


Second week


            Reading: South Carolina v. Posey transcription

            Journal assignment returned

Book review assignment given out (due by 8PM Tuesday)

Discussion of preliminary topic proposal


You may wish to consult Blackstone on homicide and accessories (if you have problems accessing the site, the URL is

http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/blackstone/blacksto.htm#book4 (look for the sections on homicide and accessories there)


Third week

            Burton, In My Father’s House

            Book review project returned

            Preliminary topic proposal due

Case assignment given out (due by 8PM Tuesday)



Fourth week


            Reading: South Carolina v. Posey transcription

            Case assignment returned

Primary source assignment given out (due by 8PM Wednesday)

Discussion of specific paper proposal



Fifth week


Wayne, Death of an Overseer and website http://www.deathofanoverseer.com/

Specific paper proposal due

Primary source project returned

Article project given out (due by 8PM Tuesday)


Sixth week


            Reading: Court opinions (in coursepack)

            Article project returned

Discussion of bibliography assignment

Sample bibliography


Seventh week


            Bardaglio, Reconstructing the Household

Bibliography due


Eighth week


            Individual conferences on papers, no class


Ninth week


            Bynum, Unruly Women


Tenth week


            Oral presentations      


Eleventh week


            Oral presentations


Twelfth week


Ayers, Vengeance and Justice


Thirteenth week


            Drafts of papers due

            Discussion of South Carolina v. Posey


Fourteenth week


            No class, Thanksgiving


Fifteenth week


            Lebsock, Murder in Virginia

            Individual conferences on papers this week and next


Sixteenth week


            No class          

Individual conferences on papers



Final papers due December 9