Discourses on Empire - ENGL8520

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2023 to 2024
Autumn Term 7 30 (15) Maria Ridda checkmark-circle


This module examines colonial and post-colonial discourses on empire in a variety of disciplines and locations from across the world. From Bartolomé De Las Casas's A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies (1542) to Arundhati Roy's essays on American empire and the War on Terror, this module studies how colonialism and imperialism are represented in theoretical and political writings: how they are justified and challenged; legitimised and overcome. Special attention is given to the period of decolonization and to the globally significant tracts and texts it has generated, including Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth (1961). The module also tackles more recent developments in cultural studies and political theory and charts the turn to the study of empire in contemporary academic and public discourse.


Contact hours

Private Study: 278
Contact Hours: 22

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
Assignment (5,000 words) – 100%

Reassessment methods
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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 Identify the main concerns of discourses on empire, including justification and critiques of imperialism and colonialism and the theorisation of resistance, liberation and decolonisation struggles.
2 Understand the role of culture in the expression of struggles and in the articulation of identities
3 Demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the works of key texts and intellectuals in the field.
4 Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the historical contexts of discourses on empire

The intended generic learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1 Demonstrate an ability to apply close reading techniques to a diverse range of material.
2 Conduct self-directed research and demonstrate an ability to discuss, evaluate and creatively deploy critical and theoretical sources of relevance.
3 Construct original, articulate and well-substantiated arguments.
4 Identify and evaluate advanced research questions9


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  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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