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The University of Southampton

ENGL2091 From Black and White to Colour: A Screen History of Race, Gender and Sexuality in Post-War Britain

Module Overview

This module presents a history of post-war multicultural Britain through the lens of British film and television, considering how our attitudes to 'race', sexuality and British identity more generally have been defined, challenged and changed by film and television. This will foreground the programmes and films themselves (for example Quatermass and the Pit, Love Thy Neighbour, If There Weren't Any Blacks You'd Have to Invent Them and EastEnders), but will require you to go beyond the image itself and to engage with the political and social developments of the period, making use of the changing cultural context, newspapers, political developments, production files and archives.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the transformation of British life from 1945
  • the relationship between majority and minority cultures in the UK
  • different academic approaches to the study of post-war Britain
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • evaluate different scholarly approaches to the study of post-war Britain
  • show a critical understanding of the nature of minority-majority relations
  • make connections between political, social, and cultural developments and the formation of identities
  • integrate textual analysis with secondary research
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • analyze primary and secondary sources in the framework of British history and culture, including the use of film and television as a source
  • work confidently with library, archival and virtual sources as appropriate


During the module the following questions will be addressed: • How has the representation of British identity changed from 1945 to the present? • How have majority and minority cultures perceived each other? • How have ‘race’, sexuality and gender been depicted and what prejudices revealed? • What has been the historical context and significance of the films and television programmes under discussion? In answering these questions you will engage with a wide range of primary sources including documents, testimonies, literature, as well as television and films.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • Short introductory lectures which may include some group work/participation • Seminars focusing on the detailed reading and analysis of primary sources – these could be texts as well as images and tv/films. Learning activities include: • In depth analysis of primary sources, including moving images. • Preparatory reading and individual study • Individual participation in seminars, group work and short presentations on seminar themes Discussion in seminars will help you to develop your ideas on a topic, to analyse a range of source material and to articulate a critical argument. This module includes a Learning Support Hour. This is a flexible weekly contact hour, designed to support and respond to the particular cohort taking the module from year to year. This hour will include (but not be limited to) activities such as language, theory and research skills classes; group work supervisions; assignment preparation and essay writing guidance; assignment consultations; feedback and feed-forward sessions.

Preparation for scheduled sessions84
Completion of assessment task20
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Daniels, Therese and Jane Gerson, eds (1989). The Colour Black. 

Solomos, John (2003). Race and Racism in Britain. 

Pines, Jim (1992). Black and White in Colour: Black People in British Television Since 1936. 

Gilroy, Paul (1987). ‘There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack’: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation. 

Malik, Sarita (2002). Representing Black Britain: Black and Asian Images on British Television. 

Banton, Michael (1967). Race Relations. 

Hunt, Leon (1998). British Low Culture: From Safari Suits to Sexploitation. 

O’Connor, John E. (ed.) (1990). Image as Artifact: the Historical Use of Film and Television. 

Schaffer, Gavin (2010). Till Death Us Do Part and the BBC: Racial Politics and the British Working Classes 1965-75. Journal of Contemporary History. ,45 , pp. 454-477.

Newton, Darrell M (2011). Paving the Empire Road: BBC Television and Black Britons. 

Scannell, Paddy (1979). The Social Eye of Television 1946-55. Media, Culture and Society. ,1 , pp. 97- 106.

Twitchin, John (ed.) (1988). The Black and White Media Book. 

Brown, Colin (1984). Black and White Britain: The Third Policy Studies Institute Survey. 

Medhurst, Andy (2007). A National Joke: Popular Comedy and English Cultural Identities. 

Higgins, Michael, Smith, Clarissa, & Storey, John (eds.) (2010). The Cambridge Companion to Modern British Culture. 

Bebber, Brett (2013). ''Till Death Us Do Part': Political Satire and Social Realism in the 1960s and 1970s. Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. , pp. 1—22.

Healy, Murray (1995). Were we being served? Homosexual Representation in popular British comedy. Screen. ,36 , pp. 243-256.

Malik Maleiha (ed.) (2010). Anti-Muslim Prejudice: Past and Present. 

Harris, C (1988). Images of Blacks in Britain: 1930-60. Race and Social Policy. .

hooks, bell (1992). Black Looks: Race and Representation. 

Dyer, Richard (1993). The Matter of Images: Essays on Representation. 

Bourne, Stephen (2001). Black in the British Frame: The Black Experience in British Film and Television. 

Paul, Kathleen (1997). Whitewashing Britain: Race and Citizenship in the Postwar Era. 

Hampshire, James (2005). Citizenship and Belonging: Immigration and the Politics of Demographic Governance in Postwar Britain. 

Winder, Robert (2004). Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain. 

Husband, Charles (1988). 'Racist Humour and Racist Ideology in British Television, or I Laughed Till You Cried. Humour in Society: Resistance and Control. , pp. 149-178.

Lewisohn, Mark, (ed.) (2003). Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy. 


Assessment Strategy

Feedback is ongoing and forms part of the teaching as a whole. The weekly seminars provide students with the opportunity to discuss the primary issues at hand and relate these to the historical context and the historiography. They will also receive feedback on their participation from their lecturer and peers. They will also receive regular feedback on their interpersonal skills, including class presentations. These will enable students to develop knowledge and understanding of particular subject areas and to enhance their oral communication skills. The essay and exam will test knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, capacity to deploy interdisciplinary approaches and to develop a coherent written argument. In addition, the source-based focus of the essay and the exam will prepare students for the demands of the Special Subject and Dissertation in the third year.


MethodPercentage contribution
Critical commentary  (1500 words) 35%
Essay  (2000 words) 65%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments  (3500 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Equipment and Materials

There are no additional costs. The primary and secondary sources are all available online.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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