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Unit information: Black British Literature in 2015/16

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Unit name Black British Literature
Unit code ENGL20041
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Josie Gill
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit explores the writing of black Britons from 1948 to the present day. Considering novels, poetry, plays, song lyrics and essays, we examine how writers have addressed a range of topics including: the experience of immigration; race riots; the politics of Blackness; identity and ancestry; multiculturalism; the post-racial; and the legacy of Empire. We will explore how black writing has challenged conceptions of Britishness and British literature by considering the following questions: What is ‘Black British Writing’? Is this a useful or valid way to categorise the work of black writers? How has writing by black Britons been received by the literary establishment? How have black writers represented the experience of migration? What aesthetic and linguistic strategies have black writers used to resist racist stereotypes?

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have (1) developed a detailed knowledge of black British literature; (2) developed a critical understanding of the political, social and cultural contexts of this body of writing; (3) acquired an understanding of major critical approaches; (4) demonstrated their ability to analyse and compare black British writing from different historical periods and across genres; (5) strengthened their skills in academic writing, argumentation, and evaluation of evidence from primary texts and critical literature.

Teaching Information

1 x 2-hour seminar per week.

Assessment Information

  • 1 essay of 2000 words (40%)
  • 1 essay of 3000 words (60%)

The 2000 word summative essay assesses ILOs 1-3 and 5. The 3000 word summative essay assesses ILOs 1-5.

Reading and References

Sam Selvon, The Lonely Londoners (London: Penguin, 2006)

Linton Kwesi Johnson, Selected Poems (London: Penguin, 2006)

Caryl Phillips, Higher Ground (London: Vintage, 2006)

Andrea Levy, Small Island (London: Headline, 2004)

Dave Gunning, Race and Anti-racism in Black British and British Asian Literature (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010)

James Proctor, Dwelling places: Post-war Black British Writing (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003)