This lecture will now take place in a distant learning format.
Your reading assignments and exercises will be available in Learnweb from 21 April.
You will receive an email once the platform has opened up.
„Man Moses, you are still living in the Dark Ages! You don’t even know that we have created a Black Literature,
that it have writers who write some powerful books what making the whole world realize our existence and our struggle.”
(Sam Selvon, Moses Ascending, 1975: 43)
From the 1700s until today, black and Asian writers have created and published texts in the British Isles. They not only changed the face of English literature beyond recognition but, effectively, have become a key element in what we consider to be English literature today. Equiano and Evaristo, two black British writers of Nigerian descent, bookend this lecture course; not in order to mark a beginning and an ending of the literature in question, but to suggest (a) the historicity of this body of writing, (b) its essential diasporic connections to spaces elsewhere, and (c) the intertextual connections within and across black and Asian British writing. The lecture course, then, surveys this extensive and varied body of black and Asian British writing, introducing students to texts such as Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative (1789), Mary Prince’s History (1831), Mary Seacole’s Wonderful Adventures (1857), Cornelia Sorabji’s India Calling (1934), Samuel Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners (1956), Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses (1988), Zadie Smith’s White Teeth (2000), and Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other (2019). These texts not only forge links across time and space, drawing upon and creating connections between Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the UK. Increasingly, the sense of a literary tradition and a cultural history emerges, with texts referring back to earlier writing; such dialogues will be observed in terms of form, thematics, and language. This lecture explores the cultural locations of these texts; it invites reflection on critical terminology such as ”black British” and ”British Asian”, situating cultural production in British, postcolonial, diasporic, transnational, and translocal contexts. For some sessions, reading samples or audio-visual material to be discussed in the lecture will be made available via learnweb.
Secondary reading can be found here: The Cambridge History of Black and Asian British Writing (2020) which can be accessed online or in print via the ULB.