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

Undergraduate Course: Representations of Blackness in Britain and Europe, 1800 - 1950 (HIST10480)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits40 ECTS Credits20
SummaryThis course offers an in-depth examination of representations of Blackness in Britain and Europe between 1800 and 1950. We will explore the continued development of processes of racialisation, particularly ideas about Blackness (always developed in relation to ideas about Whiteness) within the context of representations of 'race' in art, literature, science, material and visual cultures. We will consider how these ideas and representations have been negotiated, disrupted, and challenged over time, by Black people living and working in the British Isles and in continental Europe.
Course description In the first part of the course we will focus on the earlier part of our period, up to the mid-to-late nineteenth century. We will ask how Blackness was imagined in Europe in a range of literary, scientific, artistic and material representations and how Black people were drawn into these processes, or actively entered and shaped them, including, for example, Frederick Douglass' radical use of early photography.

In the second semester, we will consider the development of representations of Blackness from the late nineteenth century and into the twentieth century. We will consider how these representations were shaped by the expansion and consolidation of interrelated developments in racial science and imperialism, as well as circum-Atlantic flows of culture. In this part of the course we will look at minstrelsy, World Fairs, Human Zoos and the travelling circus. We will consider how these ideas and representations have been negotiated, disrupted, and challenged, especially by touring Black American and Black British creatives: people of African descent earning a living through performance in Britain and Europe. In so doing we will explore the famous and lesser known lives of Ira Aldridge, Sarah Baartmann, Fanny Eaton and Josephine Baker, amongst many others. This course assumes prior knowledge of the invention of 'race' with racial slavery in early modern Atlantic world, for instance through familiarisation with the pre-reading list provided.

Content note: The study of History inevitably involves the study of difficult topics that we encourage students to approach in a respectful, scholarly, and sensitive manner. Nevertheless, we remain conscious that some students may wish to prepare themselves for the discussion of difficult topics. In particular, the course organiser has outlined that the following topics may be discussed in this course, whether in class or through required or recommended primary and secondary sources: sexual violence, racial violence. While this list indicates sensitive topics students are likely to encounter, it is not exhaustive because course organisers cannot entirely predict the directions discussions may take in tutorials or seminars, or through the wider reading that students may conduct for the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass in 40 credits of third level historical courses or equivalent.

Before enrolling students on this course, Personal Tutors are asked to contact the History Honours Admission Administrator to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 504030).
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 400 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 44, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 8, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 348 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 80 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Semester 1:
2,000 word Source Analysis (20%)
4,000 word Essay 1 (30%)

Semester 2:
Presentation (10%)
5,000 word Essay 2 (30%)

Semesters 1 and 2:
Class Participation (10%)
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. Recognise and reflect critically on a variety of approaches to the history of 'race' and racialisation; continuity and change in ideas about 'race' over time and their relevance to contemporary social attitudes.
  5. Assess the value and limitations of various types of primary sources for the study of the Black experience in the Atlantic world.
Reading List
Equiano, Olaudah. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano: Or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Vol. 1. Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Camp, Stephanie M. H. "Black Is Beautiful: An American History." The Journal of Southern History 81.3 (2015): 675-690.

Bindman, David et al. The Image of the Black in Western Art (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2010.) Vol. 5 (part 1 or part 2)

Kunst, Hans-Joachim, The African in European Art (Bad Godesberg: Inter Nationes, 1967).

Childs, Adrienne L., and Susan Houghton Libby. The Black Figure in the European Imaginary (Florida: The Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College, 2017)

Stauffer, John et al. Picturing Frederick Douglass: an Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century's Most Photographed American (New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2015)

Bressey, Caroline, and Gemma Romain. 'Staging Race: Florence Mills, Celebrity, Identity and Performance in 1920s Britain'. Women's History Review 28, no. 3 (2019): 380-395.
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 race and racialisation in Britain and Europe.
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 secretary
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