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Transcultural Encounters: Literature, Empire, Ethnicity

Overview

Module description

This module introduces you to texts representing encounters between Europe and its ‘others’, and to debates on the politics of those encounters and their consequences. We will examine how writers have engaged with experiences of empire, slavery, migration and exile in a range of potential historical contexts, from the early middle ages to the present day. We will ask: what emerges at the cross-cultural currents of migration, occupation and trade; what is the relationship between place and identity, and how are cultural politics and literary forms shaped by empire? The course covers key concepts in relation to transcultural encounter: diaspora, race, orientalism, subalterneity and origin stories.

Indicative module content

  • Cultural and political reverberations of the break-up of Empire
  • Exploration of the political and cultural economy of transcultural encounters between Europe and ‘others’
  • Slave trade and the triangular relationship between Britain, Africa and the Caribbean
  • Responses of writers in early medieval England to the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of new ethnic and political identities

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will:

  • be familiar with a range of texts representing the history and legacy of encounters between Europe and its others
  • be able to analyse how writers and filmmakers have engaged with experiences of empire, slavery, migration and exile
  • be able to critically evaluate different formal approaches to narrating experiences of empire, slavery, migration and exile
  • be able to situate these representations and engagements appropriately in their cultural and historical contexts
  • understand current critical debates and approaches surrounding these representations and engagements.