Monday, 13 October 2014

Black History Month, Part Two

I ended my last post on Black History Month by suggesting that this annual event represents, ‘a call for us to engage with the diversity of 21st Century British culture, and to recognise the past contributions made by blacks and diasporic groups to the history of our country.’

On the second-year module HM5304 ‘After Windrush’ which I devised and also teach, we explore a range of post-1945 Caribbean, black British and postcolonial literary works. We make links to the legacies of slavery through the literature that we study on the module. We also investigate other historical and cultural issues such as migration, education, sexuality, politics, and depictions of childhood. 

One of the Black History Month events in Cheltenham next week - the screening of the recent acclaimed film ‘Twelve Years a Slave’ - resonates with the material on slavery that we are studying.  Reading Fred D’Aguiar’s novel The Longest Memory as part of the module syllabus gives us an insight into the history of slavery and its present-day depiction. On HM5301, the 19th Century American literature module, we also study the slave narrative. 

Watching ‘Twelve Years a Slave’ will contribute to our understanding of how contemporary artists and authors portray black histories and traumas such as slavery. Texts that we study, such as the slave narrative, resonate and connect in very specific ways with topics treated during Black History Month. 

See the section called ‘History of Slavery’ on the Black History Month website http://www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk/ for information about slavery.

© Dr Charlotte Beyer

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