You will be able to select from an array of optional modules covering an extremely wide chronological and geographical range.
You must pass year two which is weighted one third of your final degree classification.
French Cinema: The New Wave
The module is designed to introduce you to this particular period of French cinema by offering a detailed study of the New Wave of the late 1950s and early 1960s, focusing in particular on the films of Godard, Truffaut, Resnais and Chabrol.
As the module will show, New Wave film-makers often employed a variety of new and challenging formal techniques in order to make films that reflected an emergent, modern, iconoclastic sensibility in post-war France. For these reasons, the module combines a contextual approach with introductory teaching in film analysis.
Contemporary Francophone Cinema and Social Issues
This module engages in a detailed analysis of four recent Francophone films that deal with contemporary social issues and institutions: Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, L’Enfant (2005); Jacques Audiard, Un prophète (2009); Thomas Lilti, Hippocrate (2014); Stéphane Brizé, La loi du marché (2015). It focuses on the way in which the films present characters in a social context. The module looks at the ways in which these characters are subject to economic forces, interact with institutions, and function as members of social groups. The films are analysed from a formal perspective, considering the ways in which they all draw on the resources of cinematic realism in order to provide a representation of contemporary life that is both compelling and challenging for viewers.
Art and Contemporary Visual Culture in France
This module explores contemporary art and media production in France and beyond, looking at how recent French art and ideas feature in and contribute to a cultural world-system. We will be looking at pioneering artworks from the late 20th century and the 21st century, examining work in film, visual art of many genres, photography, music and also media technology.
Beginning with key foundational artists from the 1960s and 1970s, we move on to consider works across artistic media, mostly from the 21st century, and this will form the principal course content.
We will be looking at the work of individual artists in detail, both for the value of the work, but also to explore how contemporary cultural production reflects and reacts to the world in which it is made. Visual art is particularly useful in this context as it necessarily contains a reflective element, and this is often critical of existing situations. We will also incorporate key readings by theorists who have reflected on the themes, media, technology and politics of both art and culture in the broader sense.
On Location: Cinematic Explorations of Contemporary France
This module offers students an opportunity to explore actual cultural, economic and social differences within modern France through its representations in contemporary filmmaking. Beyond narrative themes, students will gain an understanding of how filmmakers engage the formal resources of cinema, both fiction and documentary, to capture the specificities of diverse spaces and places and to invite reflection on larger questions of identity and community, nation and citizenship, mobility and belonging.
Literature and Politics in Modern France
What better way is there to truly understand a nation than by studying its literature and politics?
We’ll examine the various ways in which French writers have engaged with the political struggles of their time. By looking at ‘committed’ literature (which is literature that defends an ethical, political, religious or social view) produced by key authors you’ll learn how to unpick the tension between literature and politics that has shaped modern France.
Introduction to Contemporary Science Fiction
Focusing on texts ranging from the novels of Jules Verne through to Élisabeth Vonarburg, this module will engage with key themes in French science fiction writing. Whether it deals with the discoveries of new worlds or the confrontation with new technologies, science fiction as a genre expresses the anxieties and hopes specific to the contemporary era. Science fiction is political in that it deals with questions of power, ecology and science. It is also philosophical, since it calls into question boundaries between cultures, times, genres and species. Drawing on these political and philosophical dimensions, the module will look in particular at how science fiction explores the ways in which identity is constructed and reconfigured by material and technological forces.
Sociolinguistics: An Introduction
This module provides you with an introduction to the rich field of study known as sociolinguistics, which investigates the relationship between language and society through an exploration of the social contexts of language use.
Particular areas of focus in any one year of the module could include:
- intercultural communication
- politeness and face
- linguistic determinism
- power and solidarity
- language choice
- speech act theory
- the ethnography of communication
- language and gender
- approaches to the study of discourse/talk
Enlightenment Literature: An Introduction
This module is an introduction to the study of 18th century French literature, through a variety of texts chosen to offer an accessible approach to the period’s main literary genres and movements of thought. Alongside an investigation of how literature developed during this era, you will consider key questions that thinkers and writers grappled with:
- What is like to fall in love?
- What is happiness and how do we find it?
- How important is personal freedom?
- Are people naturally good?
- How do we live well with others?
- How do we learn about the world and make sense of our experiences?
Huit Tableaux: Art and Politics in Nineteenth-Century France (1799-1871)
You may wonder why 19th Century French art is relevant to a student wanting to better understand today’s Francophone communities. To answer this let us take you back to a time pre-internet, pre-television, pre-photography to when historical art was a key communication tool for any society.
Together, we’ll examine eight French paintings from the key historical period of the Consulate (1799) to the Paris Commune (1871). By discovering what French citizens gained from ‘reading’ these images you will better understand their relationship with national identity, religion and political culture. It is these historical ideologies that laid the foundation for contemporary French society and your understanding of this will help you form a more thorough and nuanced appreciation of contemporary France and the Francophone world.
Among the huit tableaux to be discussed are David's Sacre de Napoléon, Delacroix's La Liberté guidant le peuple, and Meissonier's Le Siège de Paris.
Hear Dr Paul Smith give a brief overview of this module.
Post-War French Theatre
This module focuses on developments in French theatre in the mid-twentieth century. This includes plays that dramatise existentialist issues, as well as examples of what was known as the Theatre of the Absurd: a new, experimental approach to theatre, which flourished in France in the 1950s and 1960s. Authors studied will include Sartre, Beckett and Ionesco, and the module will analyse dramatic technique and theory, along with performance. The module will explore the various ways in which these plays challenged dramatic conventions and how they engaged with fundamental questions relating to meaning, causality, language and society.
Consumers & Citizens: Society & Culture in 18th Century England
This thematic module examines the social and cultural world of eighteenth century England in the period when it enters the modern world.
Areas for consideration include:
- the structure of society
- constructions of gender and culture
- family life and marriage
- the urban world
- consumerism and culture
- the press and the reading public
- social protest & the rise of radical politics
British Foreign Policy and the Origins of the World Wars, 1895-1939
Discover British foreign policy, from the last years of the Victorian Era to the German invasion of Poland in 1939.
We focus on the policy of British governments, giving an historical analysis of the main developments in their relationship with the wider world. This includes:
- The making of the ententes
- Entry into the two world wars
- Appeasement and relations with other great powers
We also discuss the wider background factors which influenced British policy, touching on Imperial defence, financial limitations and the influence of public opinion.
This module is worth 20 credits.
Communities, Crime and Punishment in England c.1500-1800
This module will survey and analyse how perceptions of law and order, and attitudes to crime and punishment changed in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries – ostensibly in response to huge increase in criminal activity. The module will discuss the wider background factors behind these changes, as well as relevant historiographical debates about them. The major topics to be explored include:
- The machinery of justice
- Policing early modern communities
- Vagabondage and the problem of the poor
- Rioting, disorder and the negotiation of authority
- Organised crime: myths and realities
- Criminality and religion
- Women, crime and the courts
- Crime and the state
- Changing attitudes to punishment 1500-1800
The Victorians: Life, Thought and Culture
The module mixes intellectual, cultural and social history to produce an overview of cultural trends in Britain between c. 1830 and 1901. Key themes include:
- The Victorians, An Overview
- Religion: Sin and Redemption
- Consumerism and the Mass Market
The Second World War and Social Change in Britain, 1939-1951: Went The Day Well?
This module surveys and analyses social change in Britain during and after the Second World War, up to the end of the Attlee’s Labour government in 1951. Key issues include:
- changing gender roles and expectations
- the experience and impact of rationing, bombing, conscription, voluntary service and direction by central government
- historiographical debates about whether Britain was united against a common enemy
- propaganda, mass communication and the management of information
- planning for a post-war world, including the creation of the National Health Service and the reform of the education system
- post-war reconstruction of cities
- reactions to the Holocaust, atomic weaponry, returning service personnel, returning Prisoners of War
- post-war austerity
- representations of the period and the construction of memory
The Rise of Modern China
This module covers the history of China from the 1840s, through to the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949. It looks at social, cultural, political and economic developments in this period from a variety of angles and approaches.
The module focuses in particular on the ways in which Chinese society responded to the arrival of 'modernity' in the form of the Western powers and Japan throughout the period in question, but also how different groups in China tried to remould or redefine China as a 'modern' nation-state and society.
Liberating Africa: Decolonisation, Development and the Cold War, 1919-1994
The purpose of this module is to examine current debates in the historiography about the end of the European empires in African and the emergence of a new political system of independent states. Topics which will feature particularly strongly are
- the emergence of a variety of different forms of African nationalism
- the ongoing debate about the uneven economic development of Africa during the last years of empire and the first years of independence
- the controversies surrounding the numerous colonial wars which were fought during the liberation struggle
- the significance of race including the question of European settlements and migration
- the impact of the Cold War on the politics of decolonisation. Countries which will be examined in particular detail will include Egypt, Algeria, Ghana, the Congo, Kenya, Angola, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Heroes and Villains in the Middle Ages
The module compares and contrasts key historical, legendary and fictional figures to examine the development of western medieval values and ideologies such as monasticism, chivalry and kingship. It explores how individuals shaped ideal types and how they themselves strove to match medieval archetypes. The binary oppositions between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are explored through study of the ‘bad king’, and the creation of villains such as the Jew. You will spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars.
The Stranger Next Door: Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages
The module explores the diversity of ways in which Jews and Christians interacted in middle Ages, seeking to offer alternative views to these of Jews as mere victims in a religious struggle or of economic envy. We will study the complex economic interconnections between the two groups, considering the new approaches to the role of Jewish moneylending and international trade and its connections with structures of power in both communities. The module will also investigate crucial ideas on anti- Semitism and anti-Judaism and will look into case studies of intolerance and conflict between Jews and Christians. Themes to study here are the massacres of Jews in the Rhineland during the First Crusade, the persecution of Jews during the Black Death and the construction of Blood libel and ritual murder accusations. The module will also examine the internal life of the Jewish communities of Western Europe looking at communal organisation and leadership. We will consider differences amongst Jewish communities in different locations of the medieval European landscape in their understanding of Jewish Law and tradition, as well as in their own patterns of interaction with the Christian political and religious authorities in different locations. At the same time, we will explore the common cultural and religious characteristics and the creation of extensive national and supranational Jewish networks. Finally, we will evaluate the historiography on the subject and the changing of perspectives on the history of the Jews in Europe, analysing the debates arisen amongst scholars with their own ideologies, methods and approaches.
Sex, Lies and Gossip? Women of Medieval England
Later medieval England was a patriarchal society. Women were considered of great importance because of their roles as mothers. However, medieval women were also considered to be more passionate and sexual than men; they were considered wile and guileful and it was thought that they spent much of their time gossiping. Using a wide range of translated medieval sources this course will pose questions about how English women overcame and operated within these stereotypical preconceptions. It will examine women in terms of progression through their life cycle from daughters under the protection of their fathers, to the work available to single women, to married women and the law – mothers under the ‘protection’ of their husbands – and then to widows and the increased opportunities available to these women. In doing so, it will examine a number of aspects of medieval women’s lives from female piety to women and work, medieval attitudes to women and sex and the gendered medieval understanding of power and authority. The course will allow students to recover much of the essence of medieval life. Were later medieval English women merely disadvantaged or were they actively downtrodden within a patriarchal society? Further, it considers the extent to which the foundations of modern gender inequalities were established in the middle ages.
A Tale of Seven Kingdoms: Anglo-Saxon and Viking-Age England from Bede to Alfred the Great
The discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found, has forced historians to re-evaluate the Anglo-Saxon period and ask new questions about this crucial formative stage of English history.
The history of much of this period of conversions, conflicts and cultural renaissances is documented by Bede, a monk from Wearmouth-Jarrow in Northumbria (c. 673–735). In 793, the world described to us by Bede was thrown into chaos by a Viking raid on the island monastery of Lindisfarne, an event that some Anglo-Saxons interpreted in apocalyptic terms. The subsequent settlement of Vikings across Northern and Eastern England profoundly changed the social, cultural and economic structures of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.
This course covers the period from the beginning of the seventh century to the end of the ninth, ending with the reign of Alfred, the only English king to ever achieve the moniker 'the Great'.
International History of the Middle East and North Africa 1918-1995
The module offers a knowledge of key developments in the Middle East and North Africa between the collapse of the Ottoman empire and the emergence of a politicised version of Islam. Students should familiarise themselves with the key historical debates surrounding, for example, the relative impact of regional and international factors and begin to work with some primary documentary material relating to political and diplomatic developments. They will also be encouraged to use primary source material from the region and to consider the role which historical events have played in framing current problems in the Middle East and North Africa.
Germany and Europe in the Short 20th Century, 1918-1990
The aim of the module is to provide knowledge about the history of Germany from the end of World War I to the reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It will provide a perspective based on the role of Germany within the European (and broadly global) context from pariah to relevant actor of the European integration process. It will encompass the process of democratisation in the interwar period, the National Socialist dictatorship and the Holocaust and the post 1945 fragmentation until the reunification. It will also include a reflection on the two German dictatorships and the pre and post-unification politics of memory.
Imagining 'Britain': Decolonising Tolkien et al
Rethinking the Industrial Revolution: The Transformation of Britain, 1750-1914
Over the period 1750-1914, it has been argued that England passed through an ‘industrial revolution’. During this period, England certainly experienced enormous changes in both rural and urban areas. This module will investigate some of the economic and social consequences including: the move of people and industry to towns, changes in the countryside, changes in living conditions, changing patterns of consumption, and the changing structures of society. This module will evaluate whether these changes in fact represented a revolution, evolution or transformation.
Kingship in Crisis: Politics, People and Power in Late-medieval England
Have you ever wondered what makes a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ king?
We investigate late medieval kingship, the dynamics of politics and power, and the reasons why royal authority was challenged.
You will examine the history of late-medieval England, from the mid-13th to late-15th century, when a series of political crises rocked the English monarchy.
We focus on the political events of the period, especially the times of crisis when the monarchy faced opposition or even usurpation. This includes:
- Simon de Montfort and the Crisis of 1258
- Ruling in the king's name: the Ordinances of 1311
- The depositions of Edward II (1327) and Richard II (1399)
- Politics and Bankruptcy: Edward III and Henry IV
- The Wars of the Roses (1450-61)
- The tyranny of Richard III
England didn’t exist in isolation, however. You’ll also explore its relations with Scotland and Wales, considering how English power was imposed on subject populations, and how they resisted. Case studies include Robert Bruce and Own Glyn Dwr.
This module is worth 20 credits.
Sexuality in Early Medieval Europe
This module deals with an important, but long neglected, aspect of life in the early medieval West - sexual behaviour and attitudes to human sexuality. Key issues include:
- ancient, medieval and modern theories of sexuality
- Christian beliefs about the family and marriage, and challenges to these
- the regulation of sexual behaviour as expressed in law codes and books of penance, including violent sexual activity
- alternative sexualities
Environmental History: Nature and the Western World, 1800-2000
Discover the environmental history of the Western World over the past two centuries. The great nature-people stories that have shaped who we are today.
You will examine the history of environmental ideas and our changing and complex attitudes to animals and nature, alongside the history of human impacts on the environment. We will use the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain as case studies. Ultimately, we ask, can environmental history save the world in the 21st century?
- species history and the rewilding debate
- the rise of environmental protection groups
- the role of the state in environmental protection
- the history of pollution and pesticide use
- the National Park movement
- the Nature Reserve and the rise of outdoor leisure and recreation
- the emergence of modern environmentalism and campaigning
- the role of wildlife television and natural history film-making
This module is a must for anyone wanting to pursue a career in the environmental sector.
This module is worth 20 credits
Central European History: From Revolution to War, 1848-1914
This module aims to encourage students to develop a detailed understanding of the major political, social and economic developments in Central Europe between 1848 and 1914. They should become aware of the main historiographical debates concerning the region and the Habsburg Monarchy in particular.
As a result of their historical studies and analytical thinking, students should enhance and develop a range of intellectual and transferable skills.
Race, Rights and Propaganda: The Politics of Race and Identity in the Cold War Era, 1945-1990
The Cold War was a conflict defined as much by intellectual and cultural struggle as by conventional military means or diplomatic relations. Cultural concepts such as race and identity were by no means immune from this, but heavily disputed and contested during the Cold War era, playing a decisive role in shaping the foreign relations of the United States, Soviet Union and other powers during this transformative period. This module examines how the United States and Soviet Union dealt with issues of race and identity during the Cold War years, confronting racial questions, challenges and liberation movements from both within their own borders (and each other’s) and in several theatres of superpower conflict – including the Middle East, East Asia and post-colonial Africa - and often viewing them through highly racialised lenses. It also considers how other powers - notably Britain, South Africa and newly-independent African and Asian nations - grappled with issues of race and identity as they sought to understand and work within a new, post-colonial Cold War world. This module aims to provide students with a new and deeper understanding of the relationship between the Cold War world and the politics of race, and an appreciation of the interconnectedness of the domestic and international in Cold War-era foreign relations.
Soviet State and Society
This module examines political, social and economic transformations in the Soviet Union from the October Revolution of 1917 to Gorbachev’s attempted reforms and the collapse of the state in 1991. You will look at Russia both from the top down (state-building strategies; leadership and regime change; economic and social policy formulation and implementation) and from the bottom up (societal developments and the changing structures and practices of everyday life). You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
The Soviet Experiment
Understanding the impact of the Soviet era is vital in order to understand 21st century Russia and the other former Soviet states. This short and turbulent period of history brought about profound transformations in culture and society.
In this module you will uncover the politics, society and culture of the Soviet Union from the 1917 October Revolution up to its fall in 1991. In lectures, we look at the political and social changes that led to the development of institutions, environment and culture that even today we recognise as ‘Soviet’. Topic-based seminars will focus on texts, visual culture, films and other sources and give you insights into the experiences and thoughts of those who lived through this time, including revolutionaries and writers, collective farm workers and cosmonauts, Communist Party loyalists and dissidents.
If you are studying Russian or East European Cultural Studies, this module is available as a year-long option.
The Venetian Republic, 1450-1575
This module explores the nature of the Venetian Republic in the later fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It examines the constitution, and administrative and judicial system, its imperial and military organisation, but will above all focus on the city and its inhabitants. The module will examine the enormous cultural dynamism of the city (especially the visual arts from the Bellini to Tintoretto and Veronese), changing urban fabric, the role of ritual and ceremony, the position of the Church, and class and gender.
- Venice and international context
- The Venetian economy
- Constitution and administration
- Venice at war and peace
- Patricians, citizens and popular classes
- Women in Venice: wives and workers, whores and nuns
- Urban fabric
- Patronage and the arts
- Artisans and printers
- Religion and the republic
- Jews and foreigners
European Fascisms, 1900-1945
Examine the rise of fascist movements in interwar Europe, following the First World War.
We focus in particular on the cases of Italy and Germany and also look at other cases for comparison (i.e. Spain, Britain, France, and Romania). This in order to understand why certain movements were more popular than others and able to seize power.
We will examine:
- the nature of fascist ideology
- the use of violence
- fascism and masculinity and femininity
We will also analyse the practice of the Fascist and National Socialist governments in power, comparing these with particular reference to repression and attempts to build ‘consent’, gendered policies on ‘race’, and expansion through conquest.
The module ends by considering the Axis and genocide during the Second World War.
This module is worth 20 credits.
De-industrialisation: A Social and Cultural History, c.1970-1990
In the 1970s and 1980s, momentous economic changes swept through traditional industrial regions across the West, turning proud heartlands into rustbelts in less than a generation. As the lights went out in shipyards, steelworks, coal mines and manufacturing plants, a way of life was destroyed for millions of manual workers and their families, with profound repercussions on identities, communities and urban topographies. This module examines the social and cultural impact of de-industrialisation in the north of England, the German Ruhr basin, and the American Midwest, using a wealth of diverse primary sources, from government records to popular music, to tease out what it meant to live through a period of tumultuous socio-economic change. The module takes thematic approaches, exploring topics including:
- Change and decline in traditional industries such as coal, steel and shipbuilding.
- Political responses to industrial change, with a particular focus on industrial conflict over closures.
- The impact of de-industrialisation on manual workers and their ways of life.
- Changing ideas of social class.
- Mass unemployment and its social and cultural consequences.
- Gender and identity, with a particular emphasis on the crisis of ‘muscular masculinity’.
- Urban decline and regeneration.
- Youth and youth subcultures in post-industrial cities.
- Cultural representations of de-industrialisation, with emphasis on popular music, fiction and feature films.
The British Empire from Emancipation to the Boer War
This module examines the history of the British Empire from the end of the slave trade in 1833-4 to the Second Anglo-Boer War in 1899-1902. The module is divided into three major geographic and chronological sections. In the first part of the course, we will discuss the British Caribbean, with a particular focus on the transition from slavery and the period of instability in the decades that followed. In the second part, we will focus on India and the changeover from East India Company rule to the direct administration by the British government in the wake of the Indian Mutiny (aka “the Sepoy Rebellion”). In the final section, we will discuss Britain’s participation in the “Scramble for Africa” and the rise of “popular imperialism” with the 2nd Anglo-Boer War. The final, pre-revision class meeting will also discuss the metropolitan aspects of empire, examining London’s status as “the Imperial Metropolis.
'Slaves of the Devil' and Other Witches: A History of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe
The module offers an overview of the history of witchcraft and covers a wide geographical area spreading from Scotland to the Italian peninsula and from Spain to Russia. Such breadth of reference is of vital importance because, in contrast to the uniform theology-based approach to witch persecution in Western and Central Europe, the world of Eastern Orthodox Christianity represented a very different system of beliefs that challenged western perceptions of witchcraft as a gendered crime and lacked their preoccupation with the diabolical aspect of sorcery. The module’s geographical breadth is complemented by thematic depth across a range of primary sources and case studies exploring the issues of religion, politics, and social structure.
Rule and Resistance in Colonial India, c.1757-1857
This module introduces the history of the British imperial expansion in India from the mid eighteenth century, through to the Rebellion in 1857. It covers:
- the rise of trade relations with India
- the growth of territorial rule through war and negotiation with Indian rulers
- resistance to imperial rule through mutiny
- the debate over sati (widow immolation)
Poverty, Disease and Disability: Britain, 1795-1930
This module explores the role of the poverty, disease and disability in shaping lives between 1795 and 1930, and how these intersected with ideas of and attitudes to health and welfare. It also examines representations of poverty, disease and disability in museums and on TV.
- understanding poverty, disease, disability in an age of progress and reform
- the problem of the poor? Poverty, the poor law and workhouses
- studying poverty, disease and disability: sources and representations
- town versus country - the healthy countryside?
- housing conditions: the slum
- working conditions
- disability and the deaf
- ‘madness’: mental illness in an age of reason
- hygiene and health care
- unrest and dissatisfaction: resistance, rebellion and riot
Travel and Adventure in the Medieval World
The module looks at peoples and places in the period c.1150-c.1250 from the perspective of travel. It shifts the focus of Christian/Muslim/Jewish/Mongol interactions from the more traditional medieval narratives of conflict, crusade and conquest, to those of Trade, Pilgrimage, Exploration and Mission. The introductory classes look at medieval travel and what people in the world with the Mediterranean at its centre knew, and thought they knew, about the rest of the World, including far-flung places that only a few people had ever ‘seen’. The lecture and seminar topics include introduce Travel Writing, Monsters, Maps, Crusades, Merchants, Pilgrims, Explorers, Envoys, Missionaries, and Assassins. Examples are drawn from Jewish, Muslim and Christian experience.
Immigration and Ethnicity in the United States
This module examines the history of immigration to the United States from Europe, Asia, and Latin America. We trace the making and remaking of immigrant communities, cultures, and identities from the nineteenth century to the present day. You will analyse models of race, ethnicity, culture, and nation by focusing on the perception and reception of immigrant groups and their adjustment to US society. We will ask questions such as: How have institutions and ideologies shaped the changing place of immigrants within the United States over time? How have immigrants forged new identities within and beyond the framework of the nation state? And how has immigration transformed US society?
America's Borders: Culture at the Limits
This module offers a hemispheric approach to North America by focusing on the history and culture of two significant borderlands regions, the Canada-US border and the Mexico-US border,as well as providing a general introduction to border theory and comparative approaches to the borderlands.
The module adopts a multi- and interdisciplinary approach to the border as a place, culture and concept and moves from the colonial period into the twenty-first century. We will analyse a diverse range of historical, literary and cultural texts (testimony, fiction, poetry,drama, film, television, art, architecture, music and performance) and engage a series of critical debates about the nature of cultural and ethnic encounter, race, nation and empire.
African American History and Culture
This module examines African American history and culture from slavery to the present through a series of case studies that highlight forms of cultural advocacy and resistance and thus indicate how African Americans have sustained themselves individually and collectively within a racist, yet liberal society. These will illustrate the resilience of African American culture via music, literature, art and material culture. Examples may include the persistence of African elements in slave culture, the emergence of new artistic forms in art, religion and music during the segregation era, and the range and complexity of African American engagement with US public culture since the 1960s across art, literature and popular culture. Weekly topics might include material culture in the Gullah region of South Carolina; or the growth of urban black churches in the North during the period of the Great Migration highlighted by the development of Gospel choirs and radio preaching.
Business in American Culture
This module introduces students to the conflicting views about business that can be heard echoing through American literature and culture in the last two centuries. These views are evident when literature and culture directly represent the business culture-its executives, managers and employees, or the physical and mental conditions of employment and entrepreneurship; they are also evident in the narrative unconscious of works appreciated for qualities other than their treatment of business. This module aims to try and understand not only what drives American culture's preoccupation with business, but also to study the various strategies used as literature and culture represents what the module calls the discourses of business: the way that business as a theme is written and talked about in the United States by presidents, by social critics, by journalists, and by writers and other cultural producers; the way that the historical accumulation of this collective input has fashioned a set of rules that govern the way successive generations can think about business; the way that specialised and professionalised languages of business become tropes and metaphors to be used outside of a strictly business environment. The module examines these discourses in a variety of representational forms from the mid-nineteenth century through to the present day: shorts stories and novels; newspapers, magazines and illustrations; speeches, autobiographies and memoirs; film and television.