This module will examine the many faces of multicultural Britain as these have taken shape in the postwar years following the collapse of the British colonial empire in the middle of the twentieth century and the waves of migration from its former colonies that followed. The focus will be primarily on Black British and British Asian writings and cultural production and will invite students to consider a range of issues that are pressing in Britain’s multiracial and multi-religious communities today such as national identity and belonging (especially the idea of Englishness), cultural difference, (im)migration, diaspora, race relations and racism, art and (self-) representation, the emergence of political Islam, history, memory and the past. We will engage with a variety of literary, theoretical, cultural and visual texts that will include novels, short stories, poems, films, music, television programmes and art.
The aim of this module is to encourage students:
to appreciate the impact of colonialism, decolonization and migration on postwar English literature and identity
to familiarize themselves with and critically assess the problems and opportunities attendant on cross-cultural exchange
to consider literary and artistic representation in its political dimension as a site of struggle in the formation of individual and collective identities
By the end of the module, students are expected:
to be able to identify and critically engage with the main issues debated in contemporary British multiculture, especially in Black British and British Asian (con)texts
to appreciate the role of literature, art and popular culture in the making and refashioning of cultural identities
to demonstrate familiarity with the texts discussed in class, the theories used to read them and the rich histories and contexts that make them meaningful
Assessment is by final exam. Alternatively, students can do the final exam (50%) and a project that will be decided in consultation with the tutor (50%). This will also involve an in-class presentation.