Winter Term 2011/2012


Enslaved: Britain's Monopoly of the Slave Market in Con-Text

Wednesday, 14:00 - 16:00 c.t.

Room: B3 1, HS II

The distressing aspects of the 'Middle Passage', that is, of the mass transportation across the Atlantic of enslaved Africans as labour force in the plantation colonies of the Americas and Caribbean, tend to predominate in the public imagination. When we stop to consider that this 'rite of passage' was part of only the first stages of a destiny that would later be comparable to that undergone by the victims of the Holocaust and the Gulag, the dimensions of the undertaking become clearer. Lasting for more than four centuries and responsible for the plight of 12-15 million Africans, transatlantic slavery is an example of the withholding, not only of human rights, but even of claims to humanity, from those who were regarded as not much else than a cheap source of labour. Hence the term "chattel slavery", where "chattel" denotes "a movable possession". Yet, even Athens at the height of its democracy had 15-35% "chattel slavery" within its precincts, while the ratio of free to enslaved was 2 : 6 million in Rome.

In this lecture series we will be looking at these and other historical dimensions of slave trading in order to establish the role Britain came to play in the global market for slave labour once it gained monopoly of the trade. If, towards the final years of the 17th century, Britain was transporting c. 6,700 Africans each year, by 1780, the number of slaves involved was above 40,000 annually. 90 % of these Africans had, as was usual also before this period, been sold to the British by African traders. By 1838, the majority of these slaves, i.e. those Africans who had not been able to rebel and form Maroon communities, had been set free in the British colonies, but this was not to be the case for the other European colonies till several decades later.

How, then, do we 'read' the narrative of Britain's single-minded exploitation of African labour, especially against the turn that it takes, following increasing slave resistance, when groups like the Quakers and the Clapham Sect agitated on the basis of their enlightened principles for Abolition?


Please contact Prof. Ghosh-Schellhorn well before the lecture starts for further details.



  • Heuman, Gad, and James Walvin, eds. The Slavery Reader. London: Routledge, 2003.
  • Further material will be made available in CLIX well before the semester starts. Please familiarise yourself with it.



Studying TAS: The Final Stages

Wednesday, 16:15 - 18:30

Room: C5 2, Room 236A Sprachlabor


All students planning to include TAS in any part of their final STEX /B.A. /M.A. examinations, whether written or oral, or intending to do a Staatsarbeit /BA /MA thesis in TAS are urgently advised to attend this colloquium during the closing (not merely final) semesters of their study.

It provides a forum for the treatment of issues relevant to your academic work-in-progress, including the opportunity to prepare yourself for exam situations by, e.g. taking 'mock exams' that can be recorded and analysed later, if you so wish. The same applies to the opportunity here presented for consolidating your research on a topic for your written exams. We will be discussing selected TAS fields of study and then applying them to texts of your choice so that you gain proficiency in this area of exam preparation. In a next step you can choose to present the current version of your Staatsarbeit, BA or MA thesis to a peer group and benefit from the feedback you receive during the session.


Please contact Prof. Ghosh-Schellhorn well before the seminar starts for further details.



We Love to Entertain You: Performing Transcultural Television Comedy

Thursday, 16:00 - 18:00 c.t.

Room: C5 3, 1.20

plus zwei Blockseminartermine jeweils Do, 16:00 - 20:00, am 27.10.2011 und am 02.02.2012


"Humour is a fantastic weapon to use if you want to touch people emotionally. I think you reach a much wider range of people more effectively by making them laugh rather than lecturing to them." This kind of a self-confident statement, as made here by the successful British Asian filmmaker Gurinder Chadha, would have been unthinkable just 2 decades ago in a UK where race set the tone. The situation with regard to migrants and non-white ethnicities in the USA and British settler colonies was equally bleak, in that they served as the butt of jokes made by the mainstream about them. And yet today, we can look back at the remarkable developments in TV comedy series and formats as confirmation of Chadha's belief in laughter's potential for further integrating "established" and "newer" communities (cf. Norbert Elias). We can now refer to the noteworthy success of stand-up comedians like Sanjeev Bhaskar, by now a veteran satirist of  British-Asian relations in the UK, Russell Peters, who makes fun of first-generation Indian and Chinese migrants to Canada; Margaret Cho, the Korean-American satirist of race and gender, her British-Chinese counterpart Anna Chen, British Asian Shazia Mirza, who describes herself as the 'only female Muslim comic', all of whom have had some kind of influence on the German TV pioneers, Kaya Yanar and Ceylan Bülent. In the field of TV comedy series, new series like MumbaiCalling (UK) or Outsourced (USA) have, in addressing the unique phenomenon of India as the 'back office' of the world, created sitcoms that not only joke about the Indians who have to pretend to be Harry or Sally when answering hotlines – supposedly from a base in the USA/UK, but in reality, from offices in India's urban centres – and their problems adjusting to their dual personalities as Hari/'Harry' and Sita/'Sally'. The fact that, prior to the advent of these series, a 1996 radio sketch series like Goodness Gracious Me! could be turned into such a successful TV series can be traced to the pioneering work of Channel Four (London), which promoted the self-representation of British migrant communities in highly successful series like No Problem!, Tandoori Nights und Desmond's, which like their successors have been greatly influenced by Jewish and African-American humour traditions, prominently the Marx Brothers and Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor.

When watching these and related comedy formats we will be investigating the performance of transcultural humour here and asking "who is laughing with whom, at whom, and hey, what's the big joke?" In answering this and related questions, we will be guided by experts in the field, be it the performers themselves, the scriptwriters, or directors, who will come to Saarbrücken for 2 block seminars, attendance of which is mandatory (Thursday from 16 - 20 c.t.): on 27th Oct. 2011 and on 2nd Feb. 2012.


Please contact Prof. Ghosh-Schellhorn well before you register for the seminar.


The workshops being held during the block seminars will address the topics of artistic performance, humour, migrant stereotypes, as well as introducing participants to the skills of scriptwriting for, and acting in, TV comedy.



Regular attendance of all the seminar sessions; thorough acquaintance with the comedians/comedy formats listed above; individual research on a relevant topic of your choice for a short  oral presentation, followed by a term paper (15-20 pages in MLA format). Please check the TAS website under Your Studies for further details about presentation and essay writing modalities.



with Dominik Zimmer

Thursday, 15:00 - 16:00

Room: C5 3, 1.19




Colonial Self-Representation: Exhibiting Slavery

Thursday, 14:00 - 16:00 c.t.

Room: C5 3, 1.20


How can a less admirable aspect of a country's history be dealt with fairly? Is it justified to delegate the preservation of the collective memory of the role Britons played to museums dedicated to exhibiting slavery? Should we not rather turn to other forms of documentation of this phenomenon, to literary and visual autobiographical accounts as well as to works of fiction on the subject? If, however, we compare the manner in which museums dedicated to preserving certain aspects of the British Empire's impact on history seek to influence collective memory with the narrative claims of creative art, do we not arrive at a better understanding of what the stakes of musealization are?

By looking at all of these aspects we will be collecting data on site at the Museum of London, the National Maritime Museum and the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, using questionnaire-based interviews with (mainly domestic) museum visitors as against the seminar participant's own responses to the questions of their knowledge of the subject prior and after the excursion, and an evaluation of the museum experience on the basis of the expectations rising from close readings of creative texts on the subject of slavery. The results of our research will be directly placed on a website designed solely for this purpose and participation in the seminar will also involve the on-line presentation of the data-base collocated in the course of the term.


Please get in touch with Prof. Ghosh-Schellhorn well before the seminar starts in order to discuss further details of the excursion.



  • Equiano, Olaudah. “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano.” 1789. The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings. Ed. Vincent Carretta. New York: Penguin, 1995.
  • Prince, Mary. The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave. 1831. Ed. Sara Salih. London: Penguin, 1987.
  • Phillips, Caryl. Cambridge. London: Vintage, 1993.
  • Dabydeen, David. A Harlot’s Progress. London: Jonathan Cape, 1999.

Please note that the VL "Enslaved: Britain's Monopoly of the Slave Market in Con-Text" (Mitt. 14-16 c. t.) is being offered as a TAS course this semester also in order to provide the Hauptseminar participants with easier access to the history of Transatlantic slavery. Do register for the VL if you possibly can.



Regular attendance of all the seminar sessions; thorough acquaintance with the titles listed above; individual research on a relevant topic of your choice for a short oral presentation, followed by a term paper (15-20 pages in MLA format). Please check the TAS website under Your Studies for further details about presentation and essay writing modalities.



with Nadja Fuss

Thursday, 12:00 - 13:00

Room: C5 3, 1.20



Soenke Zehle

Technologies of Play: Exploring the Culture of Networks

Wednesday, 10:00 - 12:00 c.t.

Room: C5 4, CIP-Pool Raum 1.09


Over the last two decades, digital networks have facilitated the emergence of "network cultures" shaped by online (and increasingly mobile) artistic and political media practices. This has in turn prompted the rise of "net.cultural" theoretical approaches that explore these cultural practices on their own terms, i.e. with a broad understanding of the ways in which seemingly non-cultural issues of code and software influence net-based creative practices. The course provides an introductory overview of current net.cultural developments, with a particular focus on games and gaming. Topics include free software, media piracy, remix cultures (music/video), social media, online/mobile journalism.



Course journal, term paper.