EN3BBF-Black British Fiction

Module Provider: English Literature
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: English Part 1
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Nicola Abram

Email: n.l.abram@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module examines a range of British texts (poetry, drama, novels, short stories, films) by writers of black and Asian descent. Beginning with the 1950s and progressing to the present day, we discuss what might constitute the (black) British literary tradition. The module reads its set texts alongside theoretical and historical material examining issues of cultural capital, national identity and minority communities. Documentary footage, blogs, and contemporary reportage will also be examined in order to trace the pressures that the terms ‘black’ and ‘British’ have exerted on each other in a variety of historical, social, and cultural contexts.


This module introduces students to texts and debates that have animated black British writing and criticism during the post-war era. Using theoretical tools informed by postcolonial theory, the module aims to explore the issues of decolonisation, immigration, settlement and transnationalism, as well as identities of solidarity and struggle. Students will be encouraged to discuss the way in which these texts - and the critical agendas and educational practices that respond to them - are also inflected by the politics of gender, class, and sexuality, and informed by changing cultural and political imperatives.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module the students will be expected to: • exercise skills of close textual analysis, and demonstrate an understanding of the texts selected for study • demonstrate an awareness of broader theoretical and methodological issues • reflect on critical languages and practices • engage critically with ideas discussed in seminars • formulate critical analyses of ideas and texts in written work • read and interpret literary and visual texts from different critical perspectives and appreciate how differences in theoretical framework can produce multiple readings of a text • articulate an understanding of cultural diversity in the UK, including issues of 'race', gender, class, and ethnicity, and of how conceptualizations of multiculturalism have changed in the post-war period.

Additional outcomes:

Oral and written communication skills will be developed, together with critical, interpretative, and analytical abilities. Students will also enhance their IT competence through the use of relevant web resources in a critically informed manner. 

Outline content:

Texts for study may vary from year to year, but are likely to include work by Sam Selvon, Hanif Kureishi, Gurinder Chadha, Bernadine Evaristo, Zadie Smith, debbie tucker green, Courttia Newland and Helen Oyeyemi. Writing Black Britain 1948-1998: an interdisciplinary anthology (Manchester University Press, 2000), edited by James Procter, will be the course reader.

Global context:

This module promotes students’ awareness of Britain’s colonial history, in particular its relationship to Africa, the Americas, and Asia. Students will come to understand some of the cultural, political, and economic drivers behind post-war migration to the UK, and will acquire tools to critique contemporary discourse about immigration and national identity. 

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Three seminar hours weekly, for which students are required to do preparatory reading. Students are also entitled to a half-hour feedback tutorial on their formative work. In consultation with the module convenor, students may also undertake a placement, through which they will learn how to apply the knowledge and skills gained in studying for this module in a professional context outside the University. 

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 30
Tutorials 0.5
Guided independent study 169.5
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 50
Portfolio 50

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

This module is assessed by two pieces of coursework. Students will complete an online reflective learning journal of ten weekly entries; they will submit five of these entries for summative assessment (50%). Students will also complete one assessed essay of 2500 words (50%), to be submitted at the start of the Spring Term.

Feedback will be provided on both elements of the summative assessment. 

Formative assessment methods:

The first five weeks’ Learning Journal entries (each 450-500 words, up to a total of 2,500 words) perform a formative function. Students will receive individual one-to-one feedback on this work. 

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:
    A mark of at least 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Coursework will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Work submitted for reassessment is due by 25th August.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Students will be required to buy or borrow all set texts; the University bookshop usually offers a bundle deal or price match. Supplementary (historical/theoretical/biographical) texts will be provided digitally free of charge, but students should print these and their own written work at their own expense. 

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


    Things to do now