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SEL2233 : Literatures of Decolonisation

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor James Procter
  • Lecturer: Dr Shalini Sengupta, Professor Neelam Srivastava
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 150 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


While the term decolonisation has recently gained a new currency within the Western academy, it was first used in the early twentieth century to describe and argue strategies for the dismantling of colonial power in locations such as Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia. Decolonisation refers in this context, not just to political formations (e.g. nationalism, anti-colonial resistance, independence movements) but also cultural formations, including those relating to language, psychology and literature. Decolonisation involves the conception of an alternative reality, and is therefore critically concerned with the work of the imagination.

By exploring the literature and thought of key African, Caribbean, Indian and black British writers from the twentieth century to the present, this module will introduce you to a range of texts that examine, narrate, and critique the cultural construction of decolonisation. We will focus on decolonisation as an ongoing process whose outcomes are often still being contested. In order to do so, we will consider a range of debates, themes and methodologies that include: globalisation, translation studies, migration and diaspora, and postcolonial studies.

Outline Of Syllabus

Focusing on a range of twentieth century texts from Africa, the Caribbean, South Asia and the diaspora, the syllabus will introduce students to a variety of aesthetic responses to decolonisation, from the use of nation language, and strategies of ‘writing back’, to the reinvention of the novel as a transnational form. Lectures and seminars will frame these creative and formal preoccupations in relation to both the historical and political circumstances of the primary texts, and key theoretical and conceptual debates, including the work of critical thinkers such as Frantz Fanon, Ngugi wa Thiongo, CLR James and Stuart Hall. Indicative reading includes (please note this may change from year to year):

Amos Tutuola, The Palm-Wine Drinkard (1952)
Sam Selvon, Moses Ascending (1975)
Selected Poetry (e.g. Linton Kwesi Johnson; Daljit Nagra; Louise Bennett)
Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things (1997)
Zadie Smith, White Teeth (2000)
Bernardine Evaristo, Girl, Woman, Other (2020)

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion148:0048:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities181:0081:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study138:0038:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce students to key knowledge and information that relates directly to the learning outcomes of the module. Seminars develop this knowledge through small group dialogue and discussion.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M25Comparative close reading exercise (1000 words)
Essay2A75Comparative essay (3000 words)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment for this module consists of two summative essays:
1) A comparative close reading exercise (1000 words), worth 25%. Focusing on a ‘source’ text and its ‘translation’, students will be asked to explore and account for the different meanings that emerge across two versions of the same text. Translation here might be linguistic (e.g. a poem written in both nation language and standard English), or intermedial (e.g. a text and the performance of that text).

2) A final essay (3000 words), worth 75%. This end of semester essay will require students to engage comparatively and conceptually with the set texts. Students will have to select texts from both the first and second half of the module to ensure engagement does not tail off in the final weeks.

Both of these assignments are designed to evaluate students' knowledge and understanding of the aims and learning outcomes of the module.

Reading Lists