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Unit information: Black Humanities I in 2020/21

Unit name Black Humanities I
Unit code MODLM0043
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Burch-Brown
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts


Based on cutting-edge interdisciplinary research and contemporary practice, this unit provides students with a foundation in Black Humanities. Students will explore the intellectual and cultural production of people of African descent and meet with arts practitioners and community activists. Together we will ask how the arts and humanities can generate changes in today’s society and tackle urgent questions concerning racism and anti-racism, enslavement, reparative justice, and care. The unit will draw on critical work from across the arts, history, literature, philosophy and social theory, for students to understand the history of the field and to interrogate historical and contemporary notions of blackness and social justice. The unit will introduce students to key authors and texts as well as to influential methodological approaches across the disciplines.

Unit aims:

  • Introduce theoretical frameworks that underpin notions of blackness.
  • Introduce methodological approaches across the disciplines of arts, history, literature, philosophy and social theory.
  • Provide students with insight into the most recent developments in this rapidly changing field with a approach to the ways in which historical developments, activist cultures, and artistic production, continue to shape contemporary practice.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

1. Identify and analyse key themes and debates in Black Humanities, including racism and anti-racism, enslavement and reparative justice, care.

2. Discuss and evaluate the debates that surround different and varied notions of blackness.

3. Reflect on the connections between theory and practice.

4. Work with primary sources and select pertinent evidence in order to illustrate/demonstrate specific and more general points.

5. Present research and judgements in written forms and styles appropriate to the discipline and to M Level.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered online through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures, and collaborative as well as self-directed learning opportunities supported by tutor consultation.

Assessment Details

Portfolio (100% UAM)

Reading and References

Kwame Anthony Appiah, In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture (Oxford University Press, 1992)

Houston A Baker et al, Black British Cultural Studies Reader (Chicago, 1996)

Jacqueline Bobo et al The Black Studies Reader (Routledge, 2004)

Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism (Beacon Press, 2018)

WEB DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk (1903)

Frantz Fanon, Black Skins, White Masks (1952) -- Wretched of the Earth (1961)

Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (London: Verso, 1993) -- Small Acts: Thoughts on the Politics of Black Culture (London: Serpant’s Tail, 1993)

Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought (Routledge, 2008) bell hooks, Ain't I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism (Pluto Press, 1987) --Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice (Routledge, 2013)

CLR James, The Black Jacobins (1938; London: Penguin, 2001)

Kobena Mercer, Welcome to the Jungle: New Positions in Black Cultural Studies (London: Routledge, 1994)

Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001) ---Critique of Black Reason (Duke, 2017)

Tommie Shelbie, We who are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity (Belknap Press, 2005)

Fabio Rojas, From Black Power to Black Studies: How a Radical Social Movement Became an Academic Discipline (Johns Hopkins University, 2010)