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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Undergraduate Course: 21st Century Black American Fiction (ENLI10414)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course is a study of contemporary Black American Fiction, deliberately cutting across many genres of narrative fiction in order to help students explore and come to understand the great diversity within this body of writing. The primary texts studied will be both important in themselves, and also as exemplars of important and vibrant generic forms. The course will look at texts across such genres as: historical metafiction, neo-slave narrative, satire, LGBTQ+ fiction, realism, immigrant-experience narrative, and fantasy writing. The course will engage with contemporary issues beyond the immediate primary materials, but closely intertwined with them: these will include BLM, urban and non-urban cultures, the policing of borders, and debates over sexualities.
Course description The twenty-first century has seen Black American writing engage with literary form and socio-political matters in exciting and various ways. The importance of music and musicality, of orality, of historical antecedents such as slave narratives, the Harlem Renaissance, Black Arts Movement, Black Womanism, the broader Civil Rights Movement, and others, are variously expressed in the writing of our current historical period. On this course we will engage with texts that engage with issues of racial trauma, the struggle for Reparations, attempts to inscribe a so-called post-racial polity on America, the silencing and vocalising of Black voices, and more.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( Literary Studies 1A (ENLI08020) AND Literary Studies 1B (ENLI08021) OR English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) AND Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016)) AND ( Literary Studies 2A: English Literature in the World, 1380-1788 (ENLI08024) AND Literary Studies 2B: English Literature in the World, post-1789 (ENLI08025) OR Scottish Literature 2A (ENLI08022) AND Scottish Literature 2B (ENLI08023) OR English Literature 2 (ENLI08003) AND Scottish Literature 2 (ENLI08004))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 2000 word coursework essay (30%) submitted mid-semester;
plus 3000 word final essay submitted during exam period (70%).
Feedback Students will receive detailed written feedback on essays. All students will be able to ask for a face-to-face consultation in order to clarify and build on any of the feedback, should the student feel this would benefit them. Emphasis will be on what the student has done well, and how to build on that. Verbal feedback will be given for all ALG work and for in-class discussions.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Express well-developed, clear, and evidence-based critical views on contemporary Black American fiction, and its representation and depiction of a variety of issues, ideas, institutions, and social practices;
  2. Show an understanding of how different fictional genres can be deployed to pose questions around the things mentioned in LO1 above;
  3. Read and critically evaluate contemporary Black American fiction through a variety of critical and theoretical models, as appropriate to the arguments the student is making;
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of some of the ways in which non-literary cultural modes might be brought to bear in helping understand the fiction under study;
Reading List
Primary Texts (with date of paperback editions)
Edward P. Jones. The Known World. Harper Collins, 2004.
Colson Whitehead. Apex Hides the Hurt. Little, Brown, 2018 [orig. pubd. 2006].
Teju Cole. Open City. Faber & Faber, 2012.
Toni Morrison. Home. Vintage, 2013.
Paul Beatty. The Sellout. Oneworld Publications, 2017.
Yaa Gyasi. Homegoing. Penguin, 2017.
Rivers Solomon. The Deep. Saga Press, 2020.
Ta-Nehisi Coates. The Water Dancer. Penguin, 2020.
Leila Mottley. Nightcrawling. Bloomsbury, 2023.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students on this course will enhance their graduate attributes such as: communication skills, spoken and written; ability to listen and engage with differing viewpoints; ability to incorporate ideas from a different culture than their own into their worldview; ability to synthesize differing forms of representation into a coherent understanding; ability to engage with issues of global importance.
Additional Class Delivery Information one 2-hour Seminar per week;
one 1-hour Autonomous Learning Group per week (at time to be arranged)
Course organiserDr Keith Hughes
Tel: (0131 6)50 3048
Course secretaryMiss Hope Hamilton
Tel: (0131 6)50 4167
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