Skip to main content

Unit information: Black Humanities: What, Why and How in 2018/19

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Black Humanities: What, Why and How
Unit code MODLM0036
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Saima Nasar
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This research-led unit will provide students with a foundation in comparative black studies from an Arts and Humanities perspective. It will draw on critical work from across the arts, literature, philosophy and social theory, for students to understand the history of the field and to interrogate historical and contemporary notions of blackness. 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, literature, philosophy and social theory. - Provide students with insight into the most recent developments in this rapidly changing field with a research-led approach to the ways in which historical developments continue to shape contemporary practices.

Intended learning outcomes

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

1. Identify and analyse key themes in comparative black studies across disciplines in the arts and humanities.

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

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

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)

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, Beyond a Boundary (London: Hutchinson, 1969)

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)