MCH2065 : Race, Culture and Identity

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module aims:

• To explore the concept of ‘race’, its historical development and contemporary significance, with a particular focus on the intersections of ‘race’, class, gender and sexuality in media and popular culture

• To develop a critical understanding of racism in its myriad forms, drawing on cultural theory to analyse the social, cultural, political and economic forces involved in the reproduction of ‘race’ and racisms

• To consider how people and groups are ‘racialised’ through discursive and social practices (including journalism and social media), and to assess the implications of these practices for racialized groups

• To examine how ‘racial’ ideas and practices have been resisted, culturally and politically, with reference to case studies such as Black Lives Matter, No Borders and Why Is My Curriculum White?

This module provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to discuss ‘race’ and racism in an informed, sensitive and critical fashion, making links between ‘race’ and other cultural identities based on class, gender and sexuality. Drawing on theoretical perspectives developed within media and cultural studies, heritage, sociology, history, linguistics and anthropology, students will explore current debates around ‘race’, identity and popular culture through the prism of cultural theory. They will learn about what ‘race’ is and where it comes from, and how racism can be seen as multiple, fluent and historically contingent. Students will develop the skills to think and write about contemporary ‘race’ issues with diligence and precision, and will gain a critical understanding of the role played by media and popular culture in reproducing (and resisting) racist discourse. With its focus on the theories and cultural practices of anti-racism, feminism, queer politics and class struggle, the module develops many of the themes explored in SACS’ one-year interdisciplinary module Freedom City: Social Justice through Culture and the Arts.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will draw on a range of theoretical perspectives, particularly those from media and cultural studies and heritage studies, to explore the origins of the concept of ‘race’ and its contemporary relevance in media, heritage and popular culture. Examples from European and Northern American museums, websites, newspapers, television, films, music and social media will be used to explore different facets of racist discourse in the early twenty-first century, from the representation of asylum seekers and refugees in the so-called Mediterranean ‘refugee crisis’ to the struggles against black stereotyping and police brutality in the Black Lives Matters movement in the United States. Lecture topics will include:

•       Introduction: Racism, culture and identity
•       ‘Race’ and racism: concepts, theories and methods
•       The colonial legacy: racism, culture and heritage
•       Immigration and racism in modern Britain
•       ‘Race’ and representation: TV, print and digital racisms
•       ‘Race’, class, gender, sex: Introducing intersectionality
•       Critical Whiteness Studies
•       No Borders? Racism, migration and the state
•       Blackness and Popular Music: From 'Primitivism' to 'The Street'
•       Race, Queerness and Social Media
•       'Toward a Third Cinema': Global Resistance to Imperialist Film

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion230:0060:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading160:0060:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00Seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study144:0044:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures provide the backbone of the theoretical material, consisting of the key building blocks of knowledge and understanding, while the seminars provide students with the opportunities to discuss key issues, theories, concepts and methods presented each week, using their own reading and media examples to better understand how current social issues have a racialised dimension. The combination of lectures and seminars enables the learning outcomes to be met. These student-led seminars will focus on discussion of scheduled readings and/or suggested film/video viewing (as directed in module handbook) as well as group work activities and debates set by the module leader. Students will be encouraged to personally reflect on how ‘race’ is relevant in everyday life and will be encouraged to explore this by drawing on autoethnographic approaches which embrace the students’ own experiences.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M25Personal Reflection 1000 words
Essay1M75Critical Essay 3000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment methods offer students the opportunity to explore the main themes of the module in both a reflective and applied way. In the first assessment, students will be asked to produce a short 1000-word personal reflection drawing on some of the key concepts discussed in the first five lectures (such as ‘race’, culture, identity, subjectivity, privilege, self-reflexivity). This will assess students’ understanding of key concepts and their applicability in everyday settings. Students will receive guidance in the form of seminar readings which adopt an autobiographical approach to the academic study of racism and identity.

The second assessment, meanwhile, will take the form of a longer 3000-word essay in which students answer one of a range of questions focusing on a topic covered in the module. Students will be encouraged to critically reflect on theoretical approaches to ‘race’ and racism, applying cultural theory to their own examples, and developing nuanced arguments which critique racist discourses and practices in contemporary culture.

Reading Lists