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BA Film Studies and German

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Black on Screen

Unit code DRAM20092
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Drama
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course will introduce students to the study of Black representation in screen culture. The course will focus primarily on Anglophone material from the U.K. and U.S.  Selected films and television programmes will be studied over the duration of the course. Students will be introduced to and asked to critically consider ideas of political Blackness, representation and self-representation. The syllabus will cover historical and contemporary issues relevant to the study of Black representation including race, culture and politics, inter-racial relationships, comedy and intersectionality. Note: ‘Blackness’ is used inclusively to refer to individuals and communities of African and Caribbean heritage


Available on which programme(s)?

L2 Drama, Drama and Film, Drama and English, Music and Drama; Drama minor; Film half and minor programmes


Available as Free Choice (UG) or to other programmes (PG)?



Pre-requisite units

DRAM10031: The Art of Film or DRAM13332: Introduction to Early and Classical Cinema or SALC11002: Introduction to World Cinema


Co-requisite units

Any L2 core Drama module – Theatres of Modernity; Performance After Modernity; Screen, Culture and Society



  • l  To consider the historical and contemporary representations of people of African ancestry in the mass media, predominantly in the US and the UK

    To consider the social, cultural and political contexts of Black representation and self-representation in the mass media


Indicative syllabus (representative only – all of the topics listed below may not be covered every year):


W1       Early Black American Film:     Within Our Gates or Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

W2       Blaxploitation:             Sweet Sweetback’s Badass Song

W3       New Black American Cinema:             Boyz n’ the Hood or Do the Right Thing

W4       Race and gender:        Daughters of the Dust and Pose

W5       Race and sexuality:     Moonlight or Young Soul Rebels

W6       Race and class:            Queen Sugar and Attack the Block

W7       British Caribbean diaspora:    Desmond’s and Burning an Illusion

W8       Comedy:          Gone Too Far

W9       Documentary: Stuart Hall Project and Homecoming

W10     TV narratives:  Black-ish

W11     Future of Representation?:     Black Panther or Welcome 2 the Terror Dome

Teaching and learning methods

The course will be taught via:


-          Lectures

-          Small group discussions

-          Screenings

-          Designated consultation hours


The course unit will be complemented by a Blackboard site that conforms to minimum requirements including a course handbook, weekly course breakdown, provision of reading material, reading lists, case study films and additional media and online resources. Further supplementary material will be added as appropriate. The Blackboard site will be prepared and available to students at least one week prior to the beginning of the first teaching week each semester.

Knowledge and understanding

l  Contextualise the history of Black representation primarily in the US and British media

l  Analyse the aesthetics of Black representation

Demonstrate a developed understanding of how Black representation can be considered as part of the struggles for Black settlement and advancement in the Western world

Intellectual skills

  • Demonstrate independent thinking in analysis
  •       Demonstrate cultural, historical and theoretical understanding of screen texts 
  •      Demonstrate an enhanced ability to undertake close screen textual analysis (posters, trailers, reviews etc)
  •    Extrapolate socio-cultural concepts from close analysis and reading

Practical skills

•          Work effectively in group work contexts

•          Present ideas and intellectual arguments in class discussions

•          Demonstrate critical writing skills

•          Work critically under timed examination conditions

l  Research academic and non-academic materials, and evaluate the effectiveness of these materials as supporting evidence for assessments

Produce a poster presentation

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively with others about intellectually demanding concepts, topics, materials
  • demonstrate an ability to draw with accuracy, focus, detail and precision on complex materials in independent and group work
  • demonstrate an ability to effectively present – through discussion and in writing – complex topics, drawing convincingly on oral, written and visual media as appropriate to the topic

Employability skills

Group/team working
l ability to work productively as part of a group and independently in learning environments that present complex challenges
Project management
l good level of ability to plan ¿ developing detailed, organised and multi-layered approaches to tasks
Oral communication
l an enhanced level of ability to effectively adapt self-presentation to different audiences/contexts, especially when communicating complex topics
Problem solving
l a good level of critical thinking and problem-solving skills

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 40%
Written assignment (inc essay) 60%

Feedback methods

 Feedback method


Poster presentation – oral and written


Essays – oral and written

Formative and summative

Consultation on essays and presentation - oral



Recommended reading

l  Bogle, D. (1988). Blacks in American Film: Toms, Coons, Mulattos, Mammies and Bucks. New York: Garland

l  Diawara, M. (1993). Black American Cinema. New York: Routledge

l  Dyer, R. (1997). White. London: Routledge

l  Fanon, F. (1986).  Black Skin, White Masks. Translated by Charles Lam Markmann. London: Pluto

l  Guerrero, E. (1993). Framing Blackness: African American Image in Film. Philadelphia: Temple University Press

l  Hall, S. Ed. (1997). Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. London: Sage: OUP

l  hooks, b. (1992) Black Looks: Race and Representation. London: South End

l  Ross, Karen (1996) Black and White Media: Black Images in Popular Film and Television. Cambridge: Polity Press.

l  Shohat, Ella and Robert Stam (1994) Unthinking Eurocentrism: multiculturalism and the media. London: Routledge

Young, Lola (1996) Fear of the Dark: `Race', Gender and Sexuality in the Cinema. London: Routledge

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 33
Seminars 22
Tutorials 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 134

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Monika Kukolova Unit coordinator

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