Skip to main content


SEL3450 : Border Fictions: Migration, Memory, and Transgressions in Global Anglophone Literatures, 1900-Present Day

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Shalini Sengupta
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 48 student places

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

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module examines how borders have been imagined, narrated, resisted, and rewritten in global Anglophone literature since the late twentieth century. Far from creating a borderless world, contemporary globalisation has generated a proliferation of borders. Borders begin with us, long before they are ever inscribed in the land. They are, instantaneously, points of arrival and departure: equally a beginning and an end; equally crucial and immaterial. Every border is—as we shall see—its own story, bestowed with new contemporary relevance.

At the heart of this module lies an attempt to interrogate what a border really is and understand its relevance in the context of ongoing migration and the current intensification of border regimes. Students will begin with an understanding of political borders, or the racial ordering of geographical space, and gradually move on to an understanding of how borders are felt internally in the body. We will look at diverse material to study borders that are interpersonal, inter-species, affective, psychological, and linguistic. Topics may include, but are not limited to: the Partition of the Indian Subcontinent in 1947 (one of the largest instances of border-crossings in human history); the unacknowledged traumas of the Partition that diffuse into the lives of a scattered diaspora; border control, surveillance, and passports; linguistic borders; gender/caste/race/sexuality as methods of bordering; human-nonhuman borders or thresholds.

The module will maintain a postcolonial and global (particularly diasporic and/or Black British) focus throughout, which means that students will get the opportunity to step beyond Anglo-American literary borders in their research and writing.

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus may include a selection of the following authors/texts (though these are subject to change):

Arun Kolatkar, Jejuri (1976)
Amitav Ghosh, The Shadow Lines (1988)
Bhanu Kapil, Ban en Banlieue (2015)
Anna Mendelssohn, I'm Working Here: Collected Poems (2020) or selected material from the Anna Mendelssohn Archive at the University of Sussex
Preti Taneja, Aftermath (2021)
Kayo Chingonyi, A Blood Condition (2021) or Danez Smith, None of the Above: Reflections of a Life Beyond the Binary (2022)
Fran Lock, Hyena! Jackal! Dog (2022)
Meena Kandasamy, Tomorrow Someone Will Arrest You (2023)

Indicative critical frameworks include immigration and migration history/studies; memory studies; critical race (and caste) studies; queer theory; feminism; diaspora theory and transnationalism.

Secondary literature may include: Border as Method by Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson (2013); Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldùa (1987);
The Other Side of Silence: Voices From the Partition of India by Urvashi Butalia (1998); Modernism and Mobility: The Passport and Cosmopolitan Experience (2014) by Bridget T. Chalk; Michel Foucault, in Discipline and, Punish (1977).

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading173:0073:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery22:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity120:0020:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study130:0030:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures provide the literary overview, the contextual basis and the theoretical background for students to learn about the key topics of the module. The lectures will include an analysis of texts on the syllabus and the historical and political contexts for understanding how these texts can be read as "border fictions". The small-group teaching in the form of seminars are forums where the students discuss the primary texts, in relationship to topics raised in the lectures, while bringing in secondary reading that relates to the set texts. The seminars will allow for the sharing of ideas and development of their understanding of the module.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A80One essay of 3000 words (that can be based on a self-created question) due at the end of Semester 1
Written exercise1M20A creative assessment (a design for a book cover/research poster/zine); OR 1000 words of close reading of a primary text in the module that critically reflects on the concept of borders.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

This module covers a variety of literary texts, and engages with a number of theoretical and critical concepts. While providing a solid general framework through the lectures and seminar discussions, it also encourages students to forge their own connections between the texts. For this reason, it is felt that the best method of assessment in relation to the learning and skills outcomes is the submitted essay of 3000 words (worth 80% of the mark), since it will allow students the scope to develop an independently researched essay, incorporating both primary and secondary material.

There is also a mid-module assessment worth 20% of the total mark that encourages students to creatively reflect on the module theme through a collectively produced zine or poster by working in groups. Students who don't find themselves in a position to undertake group work can do an alternate assessment, which is a 1000-word close reading of any primary text discussed in the module.

The overarching idea is to engage different skills (creative as well as critical; vocal/collaborative as well as written) so that the module remains accessible, inclusive, diverse and flexible.

Reading Lists