Harlem to Hogan's Alley: Black Writing in North America - ENGL6670

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 6 30 (15) Claire Hurley checkmark-circle


Beginning in Harlem in the 1920s and ending in Vancouver at the turn of the 21st century the module will follow a chronological and geographical route from South to North and East to West, exploring a diverse range of literary fiction and poetry that fuses urban black experience and a history of migration. Drawing on material from the US, Canada, and the Caribbean, we will spend time analysing the representation of black identity and experience, aesthetics, and the ethics/politics of literary production. Considering both the material conditions and intellectual challenges faced by different communities, we will examine a rich cultural matrix, from soulful rural folk culture to hard-edged urban cynicism, from the collage and blues aesthetics of the Harlem Renaissance, to the hip-hop vernacular of Vancouver's southwest side.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 32
Private study hours: 268
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:
Essay 1 3,000 words 40%
Essay 2 3,000 words 40%
Seminar Participation/Presentation 20%

Reassessment methods
100% Coursework (4,500 words)

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices. The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages: https://kent.rl.talis.com/index.html

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1. Assess a variety of different types of written materials and their relation to verbal, musical, and visual forms, in the course of seminar discussions and interactive lecturer-led presentations.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of the different historical and literary trajectories of African Americans in the US, Canada, and to a lesser degree, the Caribbean.
3. Interpret and apply a range of theoretical, aesthetic, and rhetorical concepts in African American and African Canadian writing.
4. Develop complex and historically situated approaches to concepts such as race, migration, the urban sphere, (literary) mapping, musical forms, and internalisation (of colonialism, racism, and so on).
5. Structure nuanced arguments centred on the close relationship between aesthetics and politics in literature.

The intended generic learning outcomes.

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1. Apply close reading techniques to a range of literary texts and to make complex comparisons between them.
2. Demonstrate skills necessary for participating in group work, giving presentations, and communicating ideas using a variety of methods.
3. Undertake self-directed research, and evaluate and creatively deploy secondary critical and theoretical perspectives.
4. Construct original, articulate and well-substantiated arguments.
5. Demonstrate understanding of the different literary traditions and movements out of which the literary texts arise, and how these in turn might be articulated within, and interrogative of, broader transnational and hemispheric frameworks.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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