“The spirit of South East London infects anyone who comes here in a very positive way.”
At the end of 2011 it was reported that of over 14,000 university professors in the UK, only 50 were black and overwhelmingly, outside the humanities disciplines. This was followed by confirmations that there are still no black managers in British premiership soccer (despite black footballers’ eminence in the sport), no sustained presence of black cricketers in the national team (despite the long-standing presence of the West Indies team in international competitions), and in turn, by findings that no sustained promotion trajectory exists for black police officers into the higher ranks of the police service, (while black males continue to be disproportionately stopped and searched by white police). In the light of such a broader social context, this MA is timely and necessary.
Many established scholars of contemporary literature working in Britain, Europe, Africa, and Asia occasionally teach a module or two incorporating Black British writers, do research on Black British texts, and publish articles and books on these interests, However, this Goldsmiths MA in Black British Writing means the University of London will break new ground in preparing and empowering scholar-specialists in this growing and exciting field of study.
If the humanities are to serve the indigenous multi-cultures of Britain, the building of a critical infrastructure that retrieves, assesses and articulates a fuller compass of inclusion is vital for intellectual and public awareness. In studying this MA, you will become part of this process.
The MA provides opportunities to experience events featuring many of the writers and practitioners studied. It also gives you contact with contemporary Black British writing, drama and performance from within Britain. You will have access to the Black Theatre Archive at the Royal National Theatre as part of fieldwork tasks and further research.
The MA draws upon the expertise of literary, drama and theatre specialists from the Departments of Theatre and Performance and the Centre for Caribbean Studies. The degree is made up of: (I) two compulsory core modules, (II) two options, which you're expected to choose, and (III) a dissertation.
Full-time students study both compulsory modules and two options and write their dissertation across one year of study.
Part-time students select one compulsory module and one option per year across two years and write their dissertation in their second year of study.
Please note: it's possible to exit the programme early with a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate if specific learning outcomes have been achieved. These options can be discussed with the course convenor.
You can apply directly to Goldsmiths via the website by clicking the ‘apply now’ button on the main programme page.
You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.
We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September.
We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place that is conditional on you achieving a particular qualification.
Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.
Admission to many programmes is by interview, unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally, we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application and qualifications alone.
You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least upper second class standard in a relevant/related subject.
Students without BA-equivalent qualifications who have substantial work experience (eg. in literary journalism, creative writing, publishing, arts administration), which can be considered as equivalent to formal qualifications, may be admitted provided they demonstrate analytical and academic writing skills to the necessary level.
If your first language is not English you need a minimum score of 7.0 in IELTS (including 7.0 in the written element) or equivalent.
Please check our English language requirements for more information.
Get in touch via our online form
+44 (0)20 7919 7766
+44 (0)20 7919 7702
Convenor of MA in Black British Writing
Although I currently work in Theatre and Performance, my base in the humanities is cross-disciplinary. My love of English literature stems from when I was first read to, and began reading. The harmony between thinking and responding to literature by using its actual medium (writing) means to study literature is to engage directly with a form of the very tools that create it. I approach the analysis of dramatic literature with a focus upon language in performance: as printed and read (its poetics), and articulated live on the stage (its dramatisation).
My courses inter-weave canonical and non-canonical emphases from Shakespeare and Renaissance drama, feminist theory, Indigenous studies, African American drama and the emerging field of contemporary Black British writing and performance. I encourage students to explore voices that exist beyond mainstream narratives as underpinned by my teaching of classical critical principles.
Convener for the MA in Contemporary African Theatre and Performance
“The spirit of South East London infects anyone who comes here in a very positive way.”
Professor Osita Okagbue was educated and has taught in both Nigeria and the UK. He brings a wealth of international experience and knowledge to his teaching and community work. Specialising in African and postcolonial theatre and performance, he is founding President of the African Theatre Association and founding Editor of African Performance Review. Through Collective Artists, a local community theatre company in South East London, he engages young people in theatre that addresses issues surrounding African diasporic identity in the UK.
“Goldsmiths is a unique place to teach, where the students challenge the teacher, and its location in South East London reflects the dynamic cultural mix of the city. Through my work, I aim to make Goldsmiths a regular place for local communities to watch and engage with relevant theatre and performance.
“My greatest wish is to use my work to contribute to the local community, especially the African diaspora community which is the focus of my research in terms of how ideas and notions of home and belonging are articulated and negotiated. Secondly, I wish to help to bridge the gap or remove the boundary between the university and the local community.”
“South East London – Lewisham, Lambeth and Southwark in particular - represent very well the eclectic and dynamic cultural mix of cosmopolitan London. It is a home from home for the many ethnic groups living here, and hence it’s a wonderful place to live and work. Its spirit infects anyone who comes here in a very positive way.”
|tbc||Historicising the Field||30 CATs|
This module examines the representational presence of black people in Britain (noting the aporia in such an undertaking), to trace the lines of descent and tradition that connect writers and performers across time and place. The module reviews the past via a problematised continuum to ascertain how mainstream or canonical culture is altered in centralising traditionally marginalised or neglected perspectives.
It asks: What were the formative conditions of production and reception for early black writers and artists in Britain? What part do retrospective historical novels, poetry, visual arts, or drama play in retrieving and reviving past times, to re-circulate and celebrate marginalised voices?
|tbc||Interculturality, Text, Poetics||30 CATs|
This module explores interpretative theories of interculturality including creolisation, poetics of relation, postcolonialism and carnivalisation in relation to Black British and Caribbean poetics, performativity, and discourses such as humanism and globalisation. The module investigates the aesthetics that emerge from the creative concern to articulate a profoundly interconnected world, and possibilities other than the nation. It examines how oral and literary texts, forms and genres within this body of writing through consolidation and experimentation, illustrate distinctive features of interculturality and syncretism.
As part of the module, you're expected to read widely and to attend a range of performances across genres: theatre, spoken-word, performance poetry, and film that relate to Black British cultural production.
|tbc||Genre and Aesthetics||30 CATs|
This module evaluates the degree to which Western, Euro-centric theoretical frameworks (to name two), fit or contort reception of Black British writing and performance. Through a survey of sources of critical languages: reviews, theatre criticism, and academic scholarship, you participate in the task of evolving an inter-referential methodology that can meet the demands of writing that slips between, and re-works literary genres and performance traditions, considering texts as printed and performed embodiments of words.
|tbc||Caribbean Women and Representation||30 CATs|
Studies the historical, social, political and cultural developments in Caribbean women’s writing from 1830 to the present, with particular reference to issues of representation of self and society. Questions of representation of plantation experience, with reference to historical beginnings and consideration of the woman in slave narrative, the novel and the engendering of history linked to issues of text and testimony are explored, including the ‘plantation-plot dichotomy’ and women in the post-slavery period.
|various||Other option modules||30 or 60 CATs|
You can choose from any other available option in the Department of Theatre and Performance and the Department of English and Comparative Literature.
To find out more about this degree, including details about the ways you'll be assessed and information about our marking criteria, you can download the programme specification
The MA’s design allows for a diverse range of applications of its contents to careers including education, counselling, community arts, arts practice, social services, cultural organisations, or towards research degrees (MPhil; PhD).
Our courses consolidate the influential presence of contemporary Black British writing. It is recognised as both intrinsic to conceptions of British cultural heritage but also distinctive within the body of British writing.
You will develop transferable writing and oral skills at a high academic level, demonstrating the ability to think and work in an interdisciplinary manner using a range of methodologies. Your ability to work collaboratively and to facilitate and participate in group discussions will be enhanced. You will also develop skills in identifying the socio-cultural, historical, political and literary issues that shape and impact upon contemporary literary and performance texts.
We are oriented towards serving your individual goals and aspirations for self-development; it will generate an articulable body of transferable knowledge and skills.
Besides developing your knowledge of best current research methods and of facts and concepts specific to the featured field of study, the proposed programme will offer training in: discerning vital literary and dramatic roots; recognising how the dynamics of creative and cultural movements interrelate; exchanging information effectively within a variety of intellectual, creative arts, and local communities.
“A Master’s degree programme that enables the serious study of the creative and artistic history and achievement of black British novelists, poets, short story writers, essayists, and playwrights.” Professor R. Victoria Arana, Howard University, Washington DC
“I fully endorse this course because I believe in its intellectual and cultural necessity.” Kwame Kwei-Armah, playwright and Artistic Director, Centerstage, Baltimore
“From my hundreds of visits to schools, colleges and libraries in the last ten years or so, I know there is a hunger out there for black British writing. This course will add to the fabric of British literature.” Alex Wheatle MBE, novelist
“A landmark for Black culture.” Hannah Pool, journalist
“It will produce path-breaking research and creative production based on this programme’s design, setting and leadership.” Professor Lauri Ramey, California State University
Content last modified: 15 Sep 2014
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