Empire, New Nations and Migration - EN695

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
5 30 (15) DR MJ Whittle




Not available as wild



This course will introduce students to the field of postcolonial literature, focusing on the period from the late nineteenth century to the present day. The module will be divided into three consecutive areas: empire and colonisation (three weeks); liberation movements and the processes of decolonisation (either three or four weeks); and migration and diaspora (either three or four weeks). Centred primarily on canonical British colonial texts, the first part of the course may also involve comparison with other less familiar texts and contexts, such as those of Zionist nationalism and settler colonialism, or more popular twentieth-century imperial fantasy and adventure genres. The texts in the second part of the module will be drawn primarily from Africa, the Carribean, the Middle East, and South Asia. The intention is to allow students to bring these disparate regions and texts into a productive dialogue with each other by reflecting on their shared history of decolonisation and their common engagement with colonial and liberation discourses. The course further aims to sketch a narrative of empire and decolonisation that is in part relevant to contemporary postcolonial Britain, to which the final section on migration and diaspora then returns. Some brief extracts from theoretical material on colonial discourse analysis, decolonisation, postcoloniality and migration will be considered alongside a single primary text each week. Students will be introduced to key ideas from the work of (among others) Edward Said, Frantz Fanon, Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall and Gayatri Spivak. Together with a broad primary textual arc stretching from the British empire to postcolonial Britain, the course will thus give students a cohesive intellectual narrative with which to explore changing conceptions of culture, history, and postcolonial identity across the modern world.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Ten two-hour seminars and ten one-hour lectures.

Method of assessment

50% coursework: seminar performance (20%), 2 essays of 2,500 words each (40% each);
50% examination - 3-hour paper

Indicative reading

Karen Blixen, Out of Africa (1937)
Ngugi wa Thiong'o, A Grain of Wheat (1967)
Ayi Kwei Armah, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968)
Edwidge Danticat, The Dew-Breaker (2004)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate the following subject specific learning outcomes:

• Gain an historically contextualised understanding of colonial discourse analysis, theories of decolonisation, migration and diaspora.
• Be able to interpret and apply a range of theoretical concepts surrounding postcolonialism across a variety of regions and literatures, and make productive comparisons and distinctions between them.
• Develop a reasonably complex understanding of the relationship between postcolonial literary studies and other critical disciplines.
• Further develop the capacity to structure nuanced arguments centred on the close relationship between aesthetics, culture and politics in a range of literary genres.
• Gain a sufficient understanding of the different literary traditions and movements out of which these texts arise, and how these in turn might be articulated within, and interrogative of, broader transnational and postcolonial frameworks.

On successful completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate the following generic learning outcomes:

• An ability to apply close reading techniques to a range of literary texts and to make complex comparisons between them.
• Development of the skills necessary for participating in group discussions and giving oral presentations.
• An increased capacity for self-directed research and the ability to discuss, evaluate and creatively deploy secondary critical and theoretical perspectives.
• An ability to construct original, articulate and well-substantiated arguments

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