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Muslim Translations of Britain - ENG00116I

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Claire Chambers
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23
    • See module specification for other years: 2021-22

Module summary

What did Britain look like to the Muslims who visited and lived in the country in increasing numbers from the late eighteenth century onwards? This module examines representations of Muslims in Britain – in English and in translation from Arabic, Persian, Urdu and other languages – from 1780 to the present day.

The Muslim as a cultural category has come under increasing, most often hostile, scrutiny in Euro-America over the last four decades or so. As a result, the field of Muslim literary studies has emerged to shine a spotlight on the exciting body of literature by authors of Muslim heritage writing back to Islamophobic stereotypes. However, this academic oeuvre too often assumes that the literature is a contemporary, broadly post-9/11, and Anglophone phenomenon. In this module, we take a long view of depictions of Britain by writers from Muslim backgrounds. Most of the texts are in translation from up to four key languages: Arabic, Persian, Urdu, and/or Turkish, but we also scrutinize some novels originally written in English. The module begins with a focus on travel and life writing from the eighteenth to the mid twentieth centuries by authors such as Mirza Sheikh I’tesamuddin, Najaf Koolee Meerza, and Atiya Fyzee. In the second part, we train our critical gaze on the long tradition of fictional representations, from Sajjad Zaheer’s A Night in London (1935) to Elif Shafak’s Honour (2013).

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2022-23 to Summer Term 2022-23

Module aims

The aim of this module is to consider to what extent and in what ways Britain and Islam are represented in writing by Muslim-identified authors. The module seeks to challenge pervasive ideas about Muslims in the West as a homogenous group and as a post-Second World War ‘invasion’. It examines a variety of prose forms, from travel and life writing to novels and short stories. A final goal is for you to be able to produce high-quality textual analysis of books originally written in a variety of non-European languages in order to think through issues relating to translation studies and language’s imbrication with politics.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with Muslim-identified authors from a range of countries responding to experiences of migration, (neo-) colonialism, nationalism, education, and travel in Britain in a variety of literary forms.
  2. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with historical contexts and (post-)colonial politics.
  3. Examine key debates and critical contexts.
  4. Develop arguments and ideas which demonstrate a proficiency in critical thinking, research, and writing skills.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of some of the key issues at stake in the act of translation and in the study of literature in translation.

Module content

This module is studied entirely in translation and therefore there are no pre-requisites or restrictions


Task Length % of module mark
2500 word essay
N/A 70
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Muslim Translations of Britain Exam
4 hours 30

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

You will be given the opportunity to hand in a 1000 word formative essay in week 1 of the summer term, in preparation for the summative essay in week 7. Material from this essay may be re-visited in your summative essay and it is therefore an early chance to work through material that might be used in assessed work.


Task Length % of module mark
2500 word essay
N/A 70
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Muslim Translations of Britain Exam
4 hours 30

Module feedback

  • You will receive feedback on all assessed work within the University deadline, and will often receive it more quickly. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is designed to help you to improve your work, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further you can discuss it with your tutor or your supervisor, during their Open Office Hours
  • For more information about the feedback you will receive for your work, see the department's Guide to Assessment

Indicative reading

confirmed texts will be posted on the VLE in advance of the module running but selected texts may include works by:

  • Mirza Sheikh I’tesamuddin,
  • Najaf Koolee Meerza,
  • Atiya Fyzee.
  • Sajjad Zaheer’s A Night in London (1935)
  • Elif Shafak’s Honour (2013).

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.