HENB01109U English - Elective 2, topic 3: The Cultures of the Black Atlantic

Volume 2016/2017



This course traces how black cultures have travelled (into) the world, from imperial, colonial, and postcolonial times up until the current age of globalisation. The 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 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 between moments of departure and arrival. From this vantage point we shall study a diverse selection of texts and explore the relationship between roots and routes, History and story, home and belonging and what it means to be black in the periods covered by our readings.

Texts: Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789), W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (1903), Caryl Phillips, Crossing the River (1993), Zadie Smith, ‘The Embassy of Cambodia’ and Chimamanda Adichie,  Americanah (2013). Additional shorter texts – literary, musical, critical, and theoretical – will help us understand how ‘black’ culture has interacted with Western modernity culture for centuries. Full course plan will be uploaded to ABSALON in August 2016.

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