CANCELED English - Free topic 5: The Making of Black and South-Asian Britain: histories and literatures

Course content



This course considers a critical aspect of Britain’s development from contrasting perspectives. Studies such as David Olusoga’s Black and British: A Forgotten History (2017) and Michael Fisher’s A South-Asian History of Britain (2007) attempt to recall a singular, coherent past from the fragmented lives of past settlers and their descendants. In the first half of this course we begin by considering whether such historical narratives are even possible, and we continue by analyzing first person and investigative accounts produced between the eighteenth and the twenty first century. Our broader purpose is to better understand the social contexts, communities and diverse lives of Britain’s African, Afro-Caribbean and South-Asian peoples, both past and present. The accounts we consider include the Narrative (1772) of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw (c. 1707-75); testimonies from Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor (1851); Ursula Sharma’s sociological investigation Rampal and his Family (1971) and Sandhya Suri film I For India (2005) about her family’s settlement and life in Britain since the 1960s. The second part of the module, ‘The Making of Black Britain – Black British Literature’, narrows the scope. In this half, we will be focussing on Black British literature – by authors of Caribbean or African ancestry – and exploring three generations of post-war writers: the influential Windrush generation of the 1950s (Sam Selvon and E.R. Braithwaite), their ‘children’, who started writing in the 1980s (Caryl Phillips and Andrea Levy), and the new generation, who are coming into their own in the early 21st- century (Olumide Popoola). To supplement the fictional texts, we be reading some seminal theoretical interventions (Stuart Hall, Paul Gilroy and Hazel Carby), important autobiographical considerations and literary responses. We will be thinking about literature as an identity-shaping and world-making activity and exploring topics such as ‘race’ and class, gender and generation, and ‘home’ and belonging in order to get a better understanding of two central inquiries: What is Black Britain? What does it mean to be Black British?

The module is taught in two seven-week blocks beginning with case study histories, life stories and investigations during the first half of the semester (taught by Peter Leece) and Black British Literature and theory in the second half (taught by Ulla Rahbek).

This course only leads to exams Free Topic 1, Free Topic 2 and Free Topic 3.

Type of assessment
Portfolio, Portfolio uploaded in digital exam: Deadline June 12th 2019
Portfolio, model 2: 1 long essay (11-15 pages) at the end of part one (counts 50 % of the final grade) and 2 essays (5-7 pages) during and ending part two (each counting 25 % of the final grade).
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 353,5
  • English
  • 409,5