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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL1855 Race, Writing and Decolonization

20 creditsClass Size: 238

School of English

Module manager: Dr Brendon Nicholls

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Current hashtag movements from Black Lives Matter to Why is My Curriculum White? to Fees Must Fall suggest that the project of racial decolonisation is far from over. Focusing on African-American, South African, Caribbean and Black British writing, this module offers the chance to look at some of the most explosive black writing on race and how it informs our current 'decolonial' moment. We will move from the writing that helped dismantle the British Empire, usher in the civil rights era in the US, and bring an end to apartheid in South Africa, through to contemporary writing that confronts ongoing structures of racism. The question of exactly what constitutes blackness and black writing will be at the heart of our discussions.


This module provides an opportunity to study decolonizing texts in English by significant writers. The texts will be used to illustrate a variety of decolonizing strategies in relation to histories of slavery, colonization, racism and migration. The module will introduce students to major literary figures in fiction in the 20th and early 21st centuries and will suggest a variety of critical, theoretical and methodological strategies appropriate for the analysis of this work. On completion of the module, students will have been introduced to key traditions in decolonizing thought and will have studied textual examples in detail.

Learning outcomes
1. The ability to use written and oral communication effectively
2. The capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of creative and critical literature produced in traditions beyond Europe
3. The ability to manage quantities of complex information in a structured and systematic way
4. The capacity for independent thought and judgement with regard to the literatures of anticolonialism and antiracism.
5. Critical reasoning about race, the cultural production of race, and its relationship to literary materials
6. The use of library resources and management of time to produce professional academic argument within specified timeframes

Skills outcomes
Skills for effective communication, oral and written, including the ability to handle literatures of trauma and atrocity with sensitivity and clarity.
Capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of discourse.
Capacity for independent thought and judgement.
Critical reasoning with regard to race, culture, identity and power.
Ability to learn independently, drawing on the university's library resources and traditions in literature beyond Europe.


This module's syllabus will explore a diverse and exciting range of decolonizing novels and poems in English, including examples from key regions within the black diaspora. It will examine how decolonizing texts engage imaginatively with history, politics and culture. Novels, poems and critical essays will be considered. The module's range of texts may change from year to year to match the knowledge and skills of the teaching team.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours170.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Reading of primary and secondary texts to be discussed in lectures and seminars; formative seminar preparation tasks; use of library and online resources; researching and writing assessed written assignments. Seminar tutors will provide guidance, via both Minerva and in seminars, for private study activities and assignments. Students will meet in 4 Learning Community peer sessions, to address specific intellectual tasks.

Students are expected to devote 170 hours of private study time to this module, with the following suggested breakdown:

- Reading, preparation and follow-up for lectures and seminars (21 x 3): 63 hours
- Preparation for workshops (4 x 2.5): 10 hours
- Preparation for essay: 102 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Weekly discussions in small group seminars, which build on formative student discussion board contributions (10x100words); opportunities for one-to-one meetings with tutors in weekly consultation hours; opportunities to meet with the School's Writing Mentors; written feedback provided on essay assessment (1400 words).

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1,400 words67.00
Reflective log600 words33.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

For the first assignment, students will draw on the 100 word blog posts that they complete before each seminar discussion. They will identify the best three posts that they have produced up to this point and assemble them together into a 600 word reflection. This will be submitted and marked for ideas and theorization of key issues encountered so far on the module.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 17/10/2022


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