The University of Southampton

ENGL3039 Sweatshops, Sex Workers and Asylum Seekers: World Literature and Visual Culture after Globalisation

Module Overview

How can literature and visual culture help us to make sense of the global forces that have come to underpin everyday cultural and economic exchanges? Developments in electronic communications and the impulses of international financial markets have profound effects on the cultural productions and commodity cultures making and breaking people’s lives. To shed light on the relationship between cultural productions and the forces of globalisation we will consider the way writers, filmmakers and theorists have addressed questions of globalisation, and the way cultural productions have been employed in theorisations of globalisation. Investigating the relation between postcolonial literary theory and globalisation, we will go on to examine critical and artistic responses to commodity culture, and the representation of migrants in the age of globalisation.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • the key texts studied, including issues of language, form, and genre.
  • the location of these texts within wider national and global contexts.
  • an appreciation of the interactions between recent literary and cultural texts and ideas of globalisation.
  • the contribution made by these texts to an understanding of migration and neoliberalism.
  • key issues within the secondary criticism on this topic.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • read confidently and critically across a range of literary, theoretical and critical texts.
  • reflect on the relationship between texts and contexts.
  • trace the representation of globalisation in different places, contexts and cultural forms.
  • evaluate different critical approaches to the subject.


We will begin with cutting-edge debates in world literature studies and work by thinkers who are interested in the relationship between cultural productions and the forces of globalisation, and indeed who use cultural productions towards their theorisation of globalisation. We will also read essays that more particularly investigate the relationship between globalisation and postcolonial literary theory. In the second part of the module, we will look at critical and artistic responses to commodity culture. In the third part of the module we will examine the representation of migrants in an age of globalisation. The final part of the module will consider how contemporary writers have responded to disaster capitalism.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures • tutor and student-led seminar discussion • audio-visual presentation Learning activities include • use of Blackboard • preparing and delivering group presentations • leading or actively participating in small-group discussions individual internet and library research

Preparation for scheduled sessions120
Follow-up work24
Completion of assessment task50
Wider reading or practice24
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Harvey, David (2005). Freedom's Just Another Word.... A brief history of neoliberalism. ,0 , pp. 5--38.

Fredric Jameson (1991). Culture. Postmodernism: or, the Cultural logic of Late Capitalism. ,0 , pp. 1--54.

Bruce Robbins (2002). The Sweatshop Sublime. PMLA. ,117 , pp. 84-97.

Monica Ali. Brick Lane. 

Abderrahmane Sissako (dir.) Bamako. Film

Rob Nixon (2010). Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. 

Nuruddin Farah. Gifts. 

Michael Blum’s (dir.) My Sneakers. Film

Liam Connell and Nicky Marsh (eds.) (2010). Literature and Globalisation: A Reader. 

Stephen Frears (dir.), Dirty Pretty Things. Film

Abdulrazak Gurnah. By the Sea. 

Helon Habila. Oil on Water. 

Indra Sinha. Animal’s People. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3000 words) 50%
Take-away exam  (48 hours) 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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