HENB01102U English - Elective 2, topic 2: The Cultures of the Black Atlantic

Volume 2015/2016

This course is inspired by Paul Gilroy’s seminal work The Black Atlantic (1993) in which Gilroy re-explores the former Triangular Trade Routes as significant ‘cultural’ trade routes that initiated a vibrant global spreading and transformation of African-derived cultures in new geographical domains. Gilroy employs ‘the ship’ as an emblem of cultural passage and of a discursive process through which black peoples, cultures, and ideas also came to influence and challenge Western modernity culture and perceptions of race, blackness, and identity. The Black Atlantic refers to a transnational and transcultural perception of identity which is dynamic, fluid and constantly in process - like ‘the ship’ always in transit and passage, actively engaged ‘in-between’ departure and arrival. From this vantage point we shall study a diverse selection of texts in the attempt to understand the hugely significant dialogical relationship between roots and routes, History and story, home and belonging that was first set in motion by the slave trade of imperial times and which still impinges on black migrant cultures in the current global age.

The texts studied will span from Equiano’s slave story in The Interesting Narrative of the life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789), W.E.B. Du Bois’ sociological study in The Souls of Black Folk (1903), Caryl Phillips’ historically revisionist Crossing the River (1993) to Zadie Smith’s migrant London novella ‘The Embassy of Cambodia’ and Chimamanda Adichie’s recent critically acclaimed ‘Afropolitan’ novel Americanah (2013). Additional shorter texts – literary, musical, critical, and theoretical – will help us understand how ‘black’ culture has travelled and interacted with Western modernity culture for centuries. Full course plan will be uploaded to ABSALON in August 2015.

The course may both be taken in tandem with or independently from ‘Introduction to Postcolonial Studies’.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 162,75
  • Total
  • 204,75
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assesment