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Unit information: Black Humanities: Arts, Texts and Contexts in 2018/19

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Unit name Black Humanities: Arts, Texts and Contexts
Unit code MODLM0035
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Williams
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This research-led unit offers students foundational tools for learning about arts and cultures of black and African diasporic communities around the world, with a particular focus on postcolonial perspectives on the arts, the critical study of ‘race’, diaspora and global solidarity, and campaigns for rights and justice through artistic movements. Topics will range across geographic areas and cover key works, texts and cultures considered under the umbrella of African and diaspora arts and culture. The unit will also introduce students to foundational authors, composers, artists, playwrights, filmmakers and their texts within the development of these frameworks through an interdisciplinary lens.

Intended learning outcomes

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

1. Identify and analyse key themes and approaches in the study of the cultural production of black and diasporic individuals and communities.

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

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

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

Teaching details

Following the design of LRU based MA core units, this team taught unit will combine lecturing with seminar-style guided discussion with an emphasis on an interdisciplinary engagement with key contemporary texts. The unit may include some fieldwork and students may be required to do some informal group work (for example, short, informal presentations in class time). Students attendance at research seminars hosted by the Centre for Black Humanities will be expected and they will also be encouraged to engage with the field by visiting relevant exhibitions and events.

Assessment Details

5,000 word essay (100% UAM)

Reading and References

Amiri Baraka [LeRoi Jones] Blues People: Negro Music in White America (1963)

Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994)

Daphne Brooks, Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006)

Jayna Brown, Babylon Girls: Black Women Performers and the Shaping of the Modern (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008)

Nicholas Brown. Utopian Generations: The Political Horizons of Twentieth-Century Literature (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005).

Ruth Bush, Publishing Africa in French. (Liverpool: University of Liverpool Press, 2016).

Mary S. Campbell. Harlem Renaissance: Art of Black America. Abrams, 1994.

Angela Davis. Blues Legacies and Black Feminism. Vintage Books, 1999.

Samuel Floyd, The Power of Black Music. (Oxford University Press, 1996)

Henry Louis Gates Jr. The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African American Literary Criticism. Oxford University Press, 1988.

Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (London: Verso, 1993)

After Empire: Melancholia or Convivial Culture? (London: Routledge, 2004)

Stuart Hall, Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies (London: Routledge, 1996).

Tsitsi Jaji, Africa in Stereo: Modernism, Music and Pan-African Solidarity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

Kadiatu Kanneh. African identities: Race, Nation and Culture in Ethnography, Pan-Africanism and Black Literatures (London: Routledge, 1998).

Madhu Krishnan. Contemporary African Literature in English: Global Locations, Postcolonial Identifications. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan Ltd., 2014).

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

Koritha Mitchell, Living with Lynching: African American Lynching Plays, Performance, and Citizenship, 1890-1930 (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2011)

Tricia Rose, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Wesleyan University Press, 1994.

Eileen Southern, The Music of Black Americans, W.W. Norton. 3rd Edition. (1997)

Susheila Nasta and Mark Stein (eds), M. Cambridge History of Black and Asian British Writing. Cambridge University Press, forthcoming

Justin A. Williams, ed.The Cambridge Companion to Hip-hop. Cambridge University Press, 2015.