Critical Race Theory - EN803

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
(version 2)
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7 30 (15)







This module helps students to develop a familiarity with the discourse of Critical Race Theory, with its origins in the combining of Legal Studies with Critical Theory, and with its application to a range of texts and contexts in North America and the UK.
Students will examine particular instances in recent history in which race has been unsystematically and systemically defined and/or challenged in social and institutional terms. They will analyse particular trends in institutional racial and racialised discourse. And they will apply the concepts and terms of analysis that they learn to the examination of literary and cultural texts that reflect, refract, and challenge such discourse. Embedded in the course will be a running discussion of institutionalised discourses around race, which will be focused on analysis of equality of opportunity in the academy through the work of Ahmed and Kuokkanen.
In the course of this module, then, students will be introduced to a range of writing, art, and performance from several ethnic groups in North America, including African American, Native American, and Chicano/a, and they will be asked to examine the ways in which prevailing ideas of race and the ways those ideas are manifested in and through legal, political, and cultural rhetorics, form and inform, inflect and are inflected by such paradigms as white privilege, intersectionality, biopolitics, equality, borders and border-crossing, resistance/activism, and racism.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

10 weekly two-hour seminars

Method of assessment

10% of the grade will be awarded for a 15-20 minute oral presentation of your research project.
30% of the grade will be awarded for a weekly research log.
60% of the grade will be awarded for a final 5,000 word research project.

Preliminary reading

Ahmed, Sarah, On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life (2012)
Anzaldua, Gloria Borderlands/La Frontera (1987)
Baldwin,James Collected Essays (1988)
Crenshaw, Kimberle et al Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement (1995)
Frankenburg, Ruth ed. Displacing Whiteness (1997)
Lorde, Audre Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (1981)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
11.1 critically apply Critical Race Theory to 20th/21st century literary and cultural contexts
11.2 demonstrate understanding of how the particular theoretical, social and institutional frameworks in which 20th century conceptualisations of race are produced and policed
11.3 develop their understanding of the historical emergence of ideas of race, discrimination, racialisation, whiteness, equality, and so in relation to a range of ethnic minority and intersectional groups in North America (and the UK), and to apply these ideas to a range of literary and other cultural products
11.4 develop independent and original arguments both with, and in relation to, the theoretical tools supplied by Critical Race Theory

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
12.1 demonstrate their ability to apply new conceptual terms or frameworks to their study of literary and other cultural texts and to incorporate these in their own research
12.2 demonstrate awareness of the complexities of historical and theoretical contexts, ideas, and texts and develop critically insightful and original responses to said complexities
12.3 respond to and communicate complex problems clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences
12.4 devise, undertake, and complete individual research projects, including regular documentation and evaluation, demonstrating methodical working practices, initiative, and self-direction

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