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Unit information: Literatures of Slavery in 2018/19

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Unit name Literatures of Slavery
Unit code ENGL30113
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Josie Gill
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This course aims to introduce students to the rich and complex literature on slavery from 1600 to the present. Students will be encouraged to consider the different political and aesthetic strategies employed by writers at different historical moments to represent slavery and to ask critical questions about the construction of race and identity. Earlier parts of the course will consider the relationship between slavery and different political ideas of liberty, the intersection of slave narratives with other 18th and 19th century literary forms, and examine paratexts and how different voices are presented and framed. In the latter part of the course will students will consider the influence of postmodernism and critical theories of trauma, memory and gender in relation to neo-slave narratives, and the relationship of such literature to contemporary ideas about race and racism.

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of key literary texts and authors of writing about slavery;
  2. Apply thorough understanding of a range of historical, cultural and intellectual contexts to readings of the literatures of slavery;
  3. Discriminate between and analyse different critical perspectives on literatures of slavery;
  4. Present and critically assess pertinent evidence to develop a cogent argument;
  5. Demonstrate skills in oral presentation and working in a group as appropriate to level H.

Teaching details


1 x three hour seminar

1 x one hour lecture

Assessment Details

1 x 3000 word Portfolio (75%) [ILOs 1-6]

1 x Group Presentation or Group Poster Presentation (25%) [ILOs 1-3, 6]

Reading and References

Ignatius Sancho, Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, An African (1782)

Mary Prince, The History of Mary Prince (1831)

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852)

Booker T. Washington, Up from Slavery (1901)

Fred D’Aguiar, The Longest Memory (1994)

Andrea Levy, The Long Song (2010)

James Basker, ed. Amazing Grace: An Anthology of Poems About Slavery 1660-1810 (2005)