BA English Literature and American Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Contemporary South Asian Literatures

Unit code ENGL34152
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by English and American Studies
Available as a free choice unit? No


Writing from South Asia has long been one of the most dynamic fields of global literature. This course examines recent texts by authors from South Asia and the South Asian diaspora. Through these works, we will explore such issues as migration, sexuality, gender inequality, class and caste in the context of urbanisation and global capitalism, war and militarism, nationalisms and fundamentalisms, and environmental catastrophe as they pertain to the rapidly changing world of individuals and communities within South Asia and across the globe. We will pay particular attention to the relationship between these urgent concerns and the authors’ approaches to literary form, be they experimental or conservative.



The aims of this course are:

  •  to introduce students to contemporary South Asian texts and their representation of themes such as globalisation and global capital, environmental threat, gender and sexuality, and migration
  • to introduce students to theoretical methods that can enrich their reading of these texts, such as postcolonial, ecocritical, and feminist approaches, and to engage with selected critical writings from these fields
  • to engage with South Asian writing that is local to Manchester/the North of England
  • to consider the formal and thematic innovations made by authors from South Asia and the South Asian diaspora
  • to analyse the ways in which recent South Asian texts interact with their cultural and historical contexts
  • to develop skills of critical thought, speech, and writing in relation to the themes and ideas listed above
  • to develop teamwork skills through group writing and presentation


Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • demonstrate a thorough familiarity with a range of recent texts from South Asia and the South Asian diaspora and their contexts;
  • engage thoughtfully with the relationship between literary form and thematic content in these texts;
  • demonstrate an understanding of critical and contextual issues, such as histories of colonialism and postcolonialism, political dissent, globalisation and global capital, environmental threat, gender and sexuality, and migration.
  • engage with relevant critical writing from a variety of theoretical perspectives.

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • think critically and make critical judgments about the representation of the key themes of the course in the texts;
  • analyse course texts in an effective and thoughtful manner;
  • reflect critically on theoretical approaches to the literary texts, including postcolonialism, ecocriticism, feminism, and queer theory;
  • develop and articulate reasoned arguments about the key themes in literary texts.

Practical skills

By the end of the course, students will have demonstrated that they are able to:

  • plan and execute independent research on a specialist topic;
  • synthesise material from different sources (e.g. critical, philosophical, and literary) in order to develop clear, reasoned and convincing arguments;
  • make good use of library resources pertaining to the course;
  • make use of and develop teamwork skills in the delivery of a clear and engaging presentation on the life and work of a local author who identifies as South Asian or as being of South Asian descent;
  • provide feedback to peers by asking questions in response to the presentations of other teams and/or by commenting on them in a respectful and constructive manner.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of the course, students will have developed the ability to:

  • retrieve, sift, organise, synthesise, and critically evaluate material from a range of different sources;
  • organise, prepare, and deliver oral group presentations in front of an audience (peers and instructor);
  • produce written work using appropriate language for an academic audience;
  • demonstrate good networking and teamwork skills by discovering an appropriate local author to work on, and by working with others on the oral presentation;
  • manage time effectively by scheduling tasks in order of importance.

Employability skills

This course enhances student employability by giving students a range of transferable skills. These include: logical thought; good oral and written communication skills; resourcefulness in the ability to gather, interpret, analyse and/or evaluate critical sources; time management skills through the completion of independent and deadline-driven work; collaboration skills through group project; articulacy and presentation skills through class presentations and seminar discussions.

Assessment methods

Portfolio of weekly responses 40%
Essay 60%


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Numerical grade and written comments on essay within 15 working days. Feedback includes commentary on performance as well as suggestions for improvement.

Formative and Summative

Oral feedback given on students’ ideas in group meetings prior to presentation/report and one-on-one meetings prior to essay submission


Oral feedback given in class during discussions.



Recommended reading

Akil Kumarasamy, Half Gods 

Neamat Imam, The Black Coat

Vivek Shanbhag, Ghachar Ghochar (trans. Srinath Perur)

Kamila Shamsie, Home Fire

Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth

Anosh Irani, The Parcel

Romesh Gunesekera, Noontide Toll


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Seminars 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Sundhya Walther Unit coordinator

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