Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : European Languages and Cultures - Common Courses

Postgraduate Course: Film, Literature, and Race: Postcolonialism, Decoloniality, and Critical Race Theory (ELCC11019)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course introduces students to key works of literature and film of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries which explore questions of race, racism, colonial experience, and postcolonialism. The course is global in scope, taking in topics such as the Harlem Renaissance, Partition in India, the contemporary Francophone world, and multiculturalism in Britain. Alongside literary texts and films, the course also includes key theoretical texts at the intersections of literary, film, political, postcolonial, critical race, and decolonial theories. Across the course, literary texts, films, and critical texts are brought into dialogue, enabling students to engage in comparative discussions, as well as to reflect on questions of medium specificity.
Course description The course offers a detailed exploration of key topics in postcolonial literature and film. The course introduces students to texts and films made in response to and in spite of experiences of racism, colonisation, segregation, displacement, (generational) trauma, erasure, and systemic violence. Thus, the course invites students to consider literary and cinematic representations in light of their political, historical, and cultural contexts. At the same time, by placing emphasis on close reading of literary and cinematic style, the course enables students to explore postcolonial writers and filmmakers¿ formal innovations and their position in relation to literary and cinematic traditions and movements.

The course offers an introduction to concepts of the postcolonial, from its development to its influence on contemporary theorisations of decoloniality, intersectionality, and critical race theory. As well as introducing students to key texts and contexts in postcolonial studies, the course provides students with critical tools for engaging with works of postcolonial literature and film. The course includes critical theory texts which explore the relationships between medium, representation, race, racism, and resistance to racism. For example, bell hooks' ¿The Oppositional Gaze¿ proposes a rethinking of the Black female gaze in Film Studies: one which claims agency and which resists the well-theorised male gaze, while Sianne Ngai¿s Ugly Feelings highlights the role of racialised affect in literary representations of people of colour, offering illuminating readings of the ways in which race, racism, and affect become imbricated in literary texts. In addition to critical theory texts, the option also proposes philosophical and political theory texts to be read in dialogue with the set films and texts - for example Frantz Fanon¿s reflections on the psychological impact of colonisation, or Achille Mbembe¿s exploration of racist discourses about Africa as ¿absolute Other¿. Thus, the course¿s theoretical corpus illuminates the representational, political, and ethical stakes of the set films and literary works, and offers philosophical frameworks through which to view film and literature in dialogue.

The course responds to demands to decolonise curricula, both in its subject matter and in the emphasis it places on writers, filmmakers, theorists, and philosophers of colour. The course invites students to engage with key literary and cinematic movements led by people of colour, as well as to engage with key texts of postcolonial and critical race theory.

The course is taught in ten weekly two-hour seminars over the course of the semester. As course organiser I will provide weekly discussion questions in advance of each session. Students will be encouraged to meet in advance of class in autonomous learning groups to discuss the readings, set texts and films, and weekly discussion questions. At the beginning of each seminar, I will give a short presentation on the topic, introducing key ideas for class discussion. The seminars will consist of plenary discussions, as well as short group work sessions for the analysis of extracts from the set texts.

On completion of this course, students will be able to demonstrate advanced knowledge of postcolonial theories, literary movements, and cinemas; develop sophisticated and original ideas about the primary texts, and about postcolonial literature and cinema; demonstrate a high level of written and spoken expression; demonstrate scholarly research skills; develop clear, coherent arguments; and offer analyses of set texts informed by secondary reading, demonstrating an awareness of the complexity and challenges of the texts and films they are studying.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Apply an extensive, detailed and critical knowledge of key postcolonial theories to a range of global literary and cinematic movements.
  2. Engage with literary texts and films via critically informed close textual and formal analysis.
  3. Exercise initiative and make use of ICT skills when conducting autonomous research.
  4. Articulate complex ideas in writing, with excellent written expression.
Reading List


Gurnah, Abdulrazak, Afterlives (London, Oxford, New York, New Delhi: Bloomsbury, 2020)

Hosain, Attia, Sunlight on a Broken Column (London: Virago, 2021) [1961]

Larsen, Nella, Quicksand (London: Penguin Classics, 2002) [1928]

Menchú, Rigoberta, I, Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala, trans. by Ann Wright (London and New York: Verso, 2010) [1983]

Smith, Zadie, White Teeth (London: Penguin, 2001)

Films (Indicative)

Soleil O (Med Hondo, 1970)

Sugar Cane Alley (Euzhan Palcy, 1983)

The Watermelon Woman (Cheryl Dunye, 1997)

Speak Up (Amandine Gay, 2017)

Atlantic (Mati Diop, 2018)


Bamikunle, Aderemi, ¿The Harlem Renaissance and White Critical Tradition¿, CLA Journal, vol. 57, no. 2 (December 2013), pp. 81-94

Beverley, John, ¿What Happens When the Subaltern Speaks: Rigoberta Menchú, Multiculturalism, and the Presumption of Equal Worth¿, Testimonio: On the Politics of Truth (Minnesota University Press, 2004), pp. 79-94

Bhabha, Homi K., ¿The other question: Stereotype, discrimination and the discourse of colonialism¿, The Location of Culture (London and New York: Routledge, 2004) [1994], pp. 94-120

Crenshaw, Kimberlé, ¿Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics¿ in University of Chicago Legal Forum, Vol. 1989, Issue 1, pp. 139¿146

Fanon, Frantz, ¿The Fact of Blackness¿, in Black Skin, White Masks, trans. by Charles Lam Markmann (London: Pluto Press, 2008) [1952], pp. 82¿108

Galeano, Eduardo, ¿Introduction¿, Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1997) [1971], pp. 1-8

Gilroy, Paul, ¿Multiculturalism and Post-Colonial Theory¿, The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory, ed. by John S. Dryzek, Bonnie Honig, and Anne Phillips (Oxford, OUP, 2000), pp. 656-676.

Greenberg, Jonathan D., ¿Generations of Memory: Remembering Partition in India/Pakistan and Israel/Palestine¿, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East vol.25 no.1 (2005): pp.8¿110.

Hall, Stuart, ¿The Multicultural Question¿, Essential Essays, Volume 2: Identity and Diaspora, ed. by David Morley (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018), pp. 94-133 [2000]

hooks, bell, ¿The Oppositional Gaze¿ in Black Looks: Race and Representation (1992), pp. 115-131

Jones, Camara Phyllis, "Confronting Institutionalized Racism", Phylon, vol. 50, no. 1/2 (2002), pp. 7¿22.

Mbembe, Achille, ¿Time on the Move¿, On the Postcolony (Berkeley, CA: UC Press, 2001), pp. 1¿19

Mbembe, Achille, ¿Necropolitics¿, trans. Libby Meintjes, in Public Culture, Volume 15, Issue 1 (Winter 2003) pp. 11¿40

Ngai, Sianne, ¿Irritation¿ in Ugly Feelings (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009), pp. 174-208

Saïd, Edward W., ¿Introduction¿, Orientalism (London: Penguin, 2003) [1978], pp. 1¿28

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, ¿Can the Subaltern Speak?¿ revised edition, Can the Subaltern Speak?: Reflections on the History of an Idea, Ed. by Rosalind C. Morris, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010), pp. 21-78

Smith, Barbara, ¿Toward a Black Feminist Criticism¿, The Radical Teacher, No. 7 (March, 1978), pp. 20-27

Trouillot, Michel-Rolph, ¿An Unthinkable History¿, Silencing The Past: Power and the Production of History (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1995), pp. 70-107

Further Books

Alvarez, Julia, In the Time of the Butterflies (1994)

Carpentier, Alejo, The Kingdom of this World (1949)

Coates, Ta-Nehisi, Between The World and Me (2015)

Condé, Maryse, Tree of Life (1992) [1987]

Daoud, Kamel, The Meursault Investigation (2015) [2013]

Desai, Kiran, The Inheritance of Loss (2006)

Diome, Fatou, The Belly of the Atlantic (2006) [2005]

Djavadi, Négar, Disoriental (2018) [2016]

Jacobs, Harriet, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)

Hamid, Mohsin, Exit West (2017)

Hurston, Zora Neale, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

James, Marlon, A History of Seven Killings (2014)

Morrison, Toni, The Bluest Eye (1970)

Paz, Octavio, The Labyrinth of Solitude (1950)

Roy, Arundhati, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (2017)

Uwagba, Otegha, Whites: On Race and Other Falsehoods (London: Fourth Estate, 2020)

Valenzuela, Luisa, Other Weapons (1982)


Akerman, Chantal, From the Other Side (France, 2002)

Chadha, Gurinder, Bend it Like Beckham (United Kingdom, 2002)

Denis, Claire, Chocolat (France, 1988)

Denis, Claire, White Material (France, 2009)

Fero, Ken, Injustice (United Kingdom, 2005)

Fero, Ken, Ultraviolence (United Kingdom, 2020)

Hamadi, Dieudo, Downstream to Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo, 2021)

Jafa, Arthur, Love is the Message, the Message is Death (United States, 2016)

Jenkins, Barry, Moonlight (United States, 2016)

Lee, Spike, BlaKkKlansman (United States, 2018)

Llosa, Claudia, Milk of Sorrow (Peru and Spain, 2009)

Micheaux, Oscar, Within Our Gates (United States, 1920)

Riley, Boots, Sorry to Bother You (United States, 2018)

Rosi, Gianfranco, Fire at Sea (Italy, 2016)

Rosi, Gianfranco, Notturno (Italy, France, Germany, 2020)

Sathyu, M.S., Garm Hava (India, 1973)

Sissako, Abderrhamane, Bamako (Mali, France, United States, 2006),

Sissako, Abderrhamane, Timbuktu (Mauritania, France, 2014)


Agamben, Giorgio, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen, (Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1998)

Asibong, Andrew ¿Claire Denis's Flickering Spaces of Hospitality¿, in L'Esprit Cre¿ateur, Vol. 51, Issue 1 (Spring 2011), pp. 154¿67

Beller, Jonathan, ¿Camera Obscura After All: The Racist Writing with Light¿, in The Message is Murder: Substrates of Computational Capital (London: Pluto, 2017), pp. 99-114

Bhabha, Homi K., The Location of Culture (London and New York: Routledge, 2004) [1994]

Butler, Judith, Precarious Life: The Power of Mourning and Violence (London and New York: Verso, 2006)

Christian, Barbara, ¿Trajectories of Self-Definition: Placing Contemporary Afro-American Women¿s Fiction¿, Conjuring: Black women, Fiction, and Literary Tradition, ed. by Marjorie Pryse and Hortense J. Spillers (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985)

Durham, Scott, ¿¿The Center of the World is Everywhere¿: Bamako and the Scene of the Political¿, World Picture Journal, Obvious, Autumn 2008, «». [Accessed 1 September 2020]

Eyerman, Ron, Cultural Trauma: Slavery and the Formation of African American Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001)

Fanon, Frantz, Black Skin, White Masks, trans. by Charles Lam Markmann (London: Pluto Press, 2008) [1952]

Grimaldo Grigsby, Darcy, ¿Negative-Positive Truths¿, in Representations, Vol. 113, No. 1 (Winter 2011), pp. 16¿38

Hayward, Susan, ¿Claire Denis's "Post-colonial" Films and Desiring Bodies¿, in L'Esprit Créateur, Vol. 42, Issue 3 (2002), p.39¿49.

hooks, bell, Black Looks: Race and Representation (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 1992)

hooks, bell, Real to Reel: Race, Sex and Class at the Movies (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 1996)

Kazembe, Lasana, ¿¿Listen to the Blood¿: Du Bois, Cultural Memory, and the Black Radical Tradition in Education¿, in Socialism and Democracy, Vol. 32, Issue 3, (2018), pp. 146¿63

Lambright, Anne, ¿Transnational Justice and Reconciliation Through Identification: Paloma de papel and La teta asustada¿, Andean Truths: Transitional Justice, Ethnicity, and Cultural Production in Post-Shining Path Peru (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2015), pp. 60-87

Mbembe, Achille, On the Postcolony (Berkeley, CA: UC Press, 2001)

Ngai, Sianne, ¿Animatedness¿, Ugly Feelings (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009), pp. 89-125

Pryluck, Calvin, ¿Ultimately We Are All Outsiders: The Ethics of Documentary Filming¿, Journal of the University Film Association, vol. 28, no. 1 (Winter 1976), pp. 21-29

Raengo, Alessandra, On the Sleeve of the Visual: Race as Face Value (Lebanon, New Hampshire: Dartmouth College Press, 2013)

Saïd, Edward W., Orientalism (London: Penguin, 2003) [1978]

Silverman, Max, Palimpsestic History: The Holocaust and Colonialism in French and Francophone Fiction and Film (New York: Berghahn Books, 2013)

Spillers, Hortense J., ¿Mama¿s Baby, Papa¿s Maybe: An American Grammar Book¿, Diacritics, Vol. 17, No. 2, Culture and Countermemory: The "American" Connection. (Summer, 1987), pp. 64-81.

St-Hilaire, Frédéric, ¿Brazilian Marginal Cinema¿, Off Screen, Volume 20, Issue 10, October 2016 «». [Accessed 2 September 2020]

White, Patricia, ¿Pink Material: White womanhood and the colonial imaginary of world cinema authorship¿, in The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Gender, ed. by Kristin Lené Hole, Dijana Jela¿a, E. Ann Kaplan and Patrice Petro, (London: Routledge, 2016), pp. 215¿26

Wilson, Emma, ¿Telephone Calls in Gianfranco Rosi¿s Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare, 2016)¿, Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media, no. 17, 2019, pp. 12¿23
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The course will aid students in developing the following attributes and personal and professional skills:

Through the course¿s emphasis on verbal and written communication and guided autonomous research, students will develop:

- Critical thinking and reading skills

- Self-confidence and the desire to articulate informed opinions

- The desire to engage in autonomous work to fulfil personal potential

Through the course¿s decolonial focus, students will develop:

- The desire to learn for positive change and to fulfil personal potential

- A passion to engage locally and globally

Upon completing the course, students will be empowered as:

- Creative problem solvers and researchers

- Critical and reflective thinkers

- Effective and influential contributors

- Skilled communicators
KeywordsComparative Literature,Intermediality,Postcolonial,Decolonial,Critical Race Theory,Film Studies
Course organiserDr Katie Pleming
Course secretaryMs June Cahongo
Tel: (0131 6)50 3620
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information