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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: Carnival in the Atlantic World: Play, Power and Politics (HIST10479)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe social and cultural history of the development of Carnival celebrations in the Atlantic World reflects the 'violent formation of the African Diaspora' (Carby, 2019). In this course we will explore Carnival in historical context and across multiple sites in the Atlantic world, from colonial Trinidad in the 1880s to London in the 1970s. Using Carnival as a lens, we will examine key themes and concepts in Black History: gender, race and class; creolisation in music and culture and urban space as a cultural battle ground.
Course description To begin we will consider what Carnival in the Americas is: its origins in Europe and Africa; then move on to consider Carnival as a site of play, satirical subversion, power and political contestation. Through an exploration of Carnival in late nineteenth-century Port-of-Spain (Trinidad), Salvador (Brazil) and Rio (Brazil) we will consider how the formerly enslaved entered and shaped Carnival, through satirical masquerade, dance and music, even from their subaltern position. We will then move to New Orleans Mardi Gras to consider a very different case study, in which Carnival became a site of 'violent ridicule' from which to articulate and perform white supremacy in the city (Roach, 1996). We will examine attempts to 'clean-up Carnival' under bourgeois stewardship in Trinidad on the cusp of independence from the British Empire. We will examine the Caribbean influence on 1930s Harlem, and later Brooklyn with the transplantation of Caribbean Carnival to New York City. Finally, we will examine the formation of Caribbean Carnival in post-war (post-)imperial London, first at St Pancras and later at Notting Hill.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass or passes in 40 credits of first level historical courses or equivalent and a pass or passes in 40 credits of second level historical courses or equivalent.

Students should only be enrolled on this course with approval from the History Honours Programme Administrator.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  25
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 80 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1,000 word Source Analysis (20%)
3,000 word Essay (60%)
Class Participation (20%)
Feedback Students are expected to discuss their coursework with the Course Organiser at least once prior to submission, and are encouraged to do so more often. Meetings can take place with the Course Organiser during their published office hours or by appointment. Students will also receive feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate competence in core skills in the study of history: essay-writing, independent reading, group discussion, listening and public speaking.
  2. Demonstrate, through source analysis, an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material.
  3. Demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others.
  4. Recognize and reflect critically on the variety of approaches to the study of the history of culture, especially Black popular culture.
  5. Assess the value and limitations of various types of primary sources for the study of the Carnival in the Atlantic world.
Reading List
Hall, Stuart, "What Is the 'Black' in Black Popular Culture?" (Durham: Duke University Press, 2019)

Gilroy, Paul, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (London: Verso, 1993) (esp. introduction)

Walvin, James, Making the Black Atlantic: Britain and the African Diaspora. The History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018)

Morgan, Jennifer L. "'Some Could Suckle over Their Shoulder': Male Travelers, Female Bodies, and the Gendering of Racial Ideology, 1500-1770." The William and Mary quarterly 54.1 (1997): 167-192.

Rowe, Rochelle, Imagining Caribbean Womanhood Race, Nation and Beauty Competitions, 1929-70 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013) (chapters 3 & 5)

Sands, RM, "Carnival Celebrations in Africa and the New World: Junkanoo and the Black Indians of Mardi Gras." Black music research journal 11.1 (1991): 75-92.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills This course will enable students to:
Develop skills in critical analysis, writing with clarity and empirical research.
Analyse and reflect critically on the history of Carnival in the Atlantic World.
Participate in seminar discussion and presentations using and developing critical thinking skills.
Execute self-directed research into an under-examined area.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Rochelle Rowe
Tel: (0131 6)50 4620
Course secretaryMiss Mel Baker
Tel: (0131 6)50 4030
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