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2016/17 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL32143 Disposable Lives?

20 creditsClass Size: 30

For full module descriptions of our level 2 and 3 undergraduate modules (including details of preparatory reading, texts for purchase and required unassessed work) please see the Undergraduate Module Handbook in the English Organisation on the VLE.

Visiting and Exchange Students must read this information before selecting modules.

Module manager: Dr Samuel Durrant
Email: s.r.durrant@leeds.ac.uk

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2016/17

Pre-requisite qualifications

Grade B at 'A' Level in English Literature (or equivalent) or an achieved mark of 56 or above in a Level 1 module in English (or its non-UK equivalent).

Please note: This module is restricted to Level 2 and 3 students. Enrolment priority will be given to Level 2 students for a restricted period (as detailed in the School's Module Handbook).

This module is mutually exclusive with

ENGL3205Disposable Lives?

Module replaces

ENGL3370 & ENGL3205

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Achille Mbembe has argued that life in many postcolonial states has been rendered 'disposable' by global capitalism, neo-colonial exploitation, despotic national governments, environmental degradation and borderless, perpetually mutating civil wars. This module looks at the problems facing writers who have attempted to represent these seemingly disposable lives and the fragile, barely human conditions of their existence. How to measure character development when the life of the individual is determined by the whims of national and transnational power? How to construct meaningful plots when day to day life has been rendered arbitrary and uncertain? What happens to the infrastructure of the novel when the infrastructure of the state has crumbled away?We will begin to answer such questions by looking at a series of what might be called 'fugitive narratives', stories about people displaced by various forms of violence. We will look at the lives of two very different drifters during and after apartheid (Tsotsi and Life and Times of Michael K); at an Elvis impersonator coming of age in a Lagos slum slated for demolition (Graceland); at the wanderings of an old man and a boy in war-torn Mozambique (Sleepwalking Land); at child soldier narratives from West Africa (Sozaboy, Song for Night and Moses, Citizen and Me); and at the stories of women who survived the Algerian war of independence and/or the later civil war (The Tongue's Blood Does Not Run Dry). We will also look at the film versions of Tsotsi, updated to post-apartheid South Africa, and Mia Couto’s Sleepwalking Land. As our characters wander amidst chaotic, fractured landscapes, the possibilities for conventional human development seemingly stalled, we will explore how these novels and films refuse to accept the idea that human life has become disposable. Drawing on the remnants of indigenous African mythologies, they work to recover regenerative possibilities even in the bleakest of historical times.

Objectives

To explore contemporary African literature and modernity.

Learning outcomes
Understanding of African literature, culture and society.

Skills outcomes
Close analysis of literature; socio-political analysis; research and essay writing.


Syllabus

Achille Mbembe has argued that life in many postcolonial states has been rendered 'disposable' by global capitalism, neo-colonial exploitation, despotic national governments, environmental degradation and borderless, perpetually mutating civil wars. This module looks at the problems facing writers who have attempted to represent these seemingly disposable lives and the fragile, barely human conditions of their existence. How to measure character development when the life of the individual is determined by the whims of national and transnational power? How to construct meaningful plots when day to day life has been rendered arbitrary and uncertain? What happens to the infrastructure of the novel when the infrastructure of the state has crumbled away?

We will begin to answer such questions by looking at a series of what might be called 'fugitive narratives', stories about people displaced by various forms of violence. We will look at the lives of two very different drifters during and after apartheid (Tsotsi and Life and Times of Michael K); at an Elvis impersonator coming of age in a Lagos slum slated for demolition (Graceland); at the wanderings of an old man and a boy in war-torn Mozambique (Sleepwalking Land); at child soldier narratives from West Africa (Sozaboy, Song for Night and Moses, Citizen and Me); and at the stories of women who survived the Algerian war of independence and/or the later civil war (The Tongue's Blood Does Not Run Dry). We will also look at the film versions of Tsotsi, updated to post-apartheid South Africa, and Mia Couto’s Sleepwalking Land. As our characters wander amidst chaotic, fractured landscapes, the possibilities for conventional human development seemingly stalled, we will explore how these novels and films refuse to accept the idea that human life has become disposable. Drawing on the remnants of indigenous African mythologies, they work to recover regenerative possibilities even in the bleakest of historical times.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Film Screenings21.503.00
Lectures21.002.00
Seminar101.0010.00
Private study hours185.00
Total Contact hours15.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Teaching will be through (10 x 1 hour) weekly seminars plus 2 x 1 hour lectures and 2 x 1.5 hours film screenings.

Private Study: Reading, seminar preparation, essay writing.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Seminar contribution
- 700 word proposal for the assessed essay.
- Contributing weekly to an online discussion group (100 words/week)

Methods of assessment


Coursework
Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay 4000 words. Unassessed work includes contributing weekly to an online discussion group (100 words/week) and a 700 word proposal for the assessed essay. Whilst the unassessed work does not form part of the assessment for this module it is a requirement and MUST be submitted. Students who fail to submit the unassessed pieces will be awarded a maximum mark of 40 for the module (a bare Pass).100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Unassessed work includes contributing weekly to an online discussion group (100 words/week) and a 700 word proposal for the assessed essay. Whilst the unassessed work does not form part of the assessment for this module it is a requirement and MUST be submitted. Students who fail to submit the unassessed pieces will be awarded a maximum mark of 40 for the module (a bare Pass).

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 26/04/2016

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