Graduate Seminar Syllabus: Early Anglophone Caribbean Literature and the Colonial Archive

Contributor

Benjamin J. Doyle
Northeastern University
2016

Notes from Author

The following syllabus was created as part of my preliminary field exam on early Caribbean literary studies (Faculty Advisor: Nicole N. Aljoe, Northeastern University).

The resource is free to redistribute and repurpose for teaching and research purposes, giving proper credit where necessary. To suggest corrections or changes, please contact: Benjamin J. Doyle

Introduction

For the better part of the twentieth century, Caribbeanist scholars challenged the "Caribbeanness" of a pre-emancipatory era literary history, arguing that the colonial archive of the Caribbean is absent of any "authentic" forms of Caribbean aesthetic and cultural expression outside the dominance of empire and subjugation. In recent years, however, literary scholars have begun to reexamine the literatures of the colonial period to trace a longer history of Caribbean literary-making. These early Caribbeanist scholars seek to place in critical relation to the texts of empire otherwise understudied or unknown literary works and figures that challenge a singular history of Caribbean literature in favor of multiple, overlapping, and oftentimes conflicting histories. In this course, students will become familiar with the key concepts, creative agents, and textual forms of both pre- and post-colonial Caribbean literary histories. They will learn to place these histories in comparative and contrastive relation to study why and how the contemporary archive of the Caribbean has often been framed as a troubling byproduct of colonialism and to examine the political, social, and material conditions of how subjects entered into print. Informed by current scholarly work, they will explore the ways a “counter-colonial” Caribbeanist model of literary critique looks to both social theory and poetics to unsettle an imperialistic history of Caribbean print culture. Additionally, they will confront the politics behind writing and rewriting literary histories, through both traditional and digital methods. And they will learn to critically examine important literary forms (including poetry, narrative, song, diaries, newspapers, novel) to identify the available modes of discourse through which the problematics of power, the politics of being, and the material and aesthetic conditions of expression were made and unmade.

Primary Texts

  • Anon. Jamaica, a Poem in Three Parts, Written in that Island, in the Year MDCCLXXVI. To Which Is Annexed, a Poetical Epistle from the Author in that Island to a Friend in England. London: William Nicoll, 1777.
  • Anon. "Me Know No Law, Me Know No Sin." In J. B. Moreton, West India Customs and Manners. 1793.
  • Asa-Asa, Louis. NARRATIVE OF LOUIS ASA-ASA, A CAPTURED AFRICAN. In The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave. 1831.
  • Grainger, James. The Sugar-Cane. London: R. and J. Dodsley, 1764.Wright. Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press, 2002. (1839)
  • James, C L. R. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. New York: Vintage Books, 1963. Print.
  • Philip, Marlene NourbeSe. Zong! Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2011.
  • Prince, Mary. The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave. Edited by Sara Salih. London: Penguin, 2004. (1831)
  • Sansay, Leonora, Michael J. Drexler. Secret History, Or, the Horrors of St. Domingo: And, Laura. Peterborough, Ont: Broadview, 2007 (1808).
  • Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. 1611
  • “The Narratives of Ashy & Sibell.” 1799–1820. In Handler, Jerome. “Life Histories of Enslaved Africans in Barbados.” Slavery and Abolition 19.1 (1998): 129–140.
  • “The Speech of Moses Bon Saam” (1735)
  • The Speech of Mr. John Talbot Campo-Bell (1736)
  • Tryon, Thomas. Friendly Advice to the Gentlemen-Planters of the East and West Indies: In Three Parts. London: Printed by Andrew Sowle, 1684.
  • Walcott, Derek. "What the Twilight Says," Dream on Monkey Mountain: And Other Plays. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1970. Print.
  • Williams, Franciscus. "To that most upright and valiant Man, GEORGE HALDANE, Esq. An Ode." In Edward Long's History of Jamaica. 1774.

Required Assignments

Archival Work

Each student will be required to perform one 10 minute, in-class presentation on an archival source text of their own choosing at some point in the term.
Requirements: the archival source cannot be an item already included in the reading schedule. The selected source should speak in interesting and obvious ways to the week’s readings or discussion topic(s). Students can make use of digital repositories to locate and access their archival source (see list of available resources below). The archival source might be an image or series of images, a historical map, a shorter literary piece related to our week’s readings, notable content from a historical periodical of the period, a source that offers background on a related historical/cultural event, etc. Presentations must situate the class to the publication history of the work(s) and offer supported claims to the source material’s significance to our class conversation. All presentations should include a digitally composed write-up introducing the source and the key points of the presenter’s rhetorical analysis to be submitted to the group prior to class.

Sample Digital Archive Resources:

The Early Caribbean Digital Archive
(http://ecdaproject.org/commons/archive)
John Carter Brown Library (https://www.brown.edu/academics/libraries/john-carter-brown/exhibitions)
American Antiquarian Society (http://www.americanantiquarian.org/search/gss/caribbean )
Digital Library of the Caribbean
(http://www.dloc.com/)
The David Rumsey Map Archive
(http://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/view/all?res=1&sort=Pub_List_No_InitialSort)

Discussion Facilitation

Each student will be assigned a week during which to lead a 30 minute discussion of one of the assigned secondary scholarly sources for that week.
Requirements: The discussion facilitation will begin with a 3-5 minute overview and critical response to the central argument / claims of the source article. The student will offer the group at least three guided questions to be distributed in a handout at the beginning of class that will help generate conversation. The goal will be to critically evaluate the scholarly source and to carry a conversation with the group for the full 30 minutes.

Making an Anthology

Each student will be required to complete the midterm project, Recomposing Caribbean Literary Histories: Anthologies of Early Anglophone Caribbean Literature. See Week 9 for assignment overview and requirements.

Class Debate: Comparative Methodologies

For the final class of the term, we will divide up into two debate teams. Students will examine the ethical and theoretical limits of scholarly methodology by identifying and employing the central ideas, claims, and/or approaches that define the interpretive methodologies of the two assigned scholars evaluating the historical, literary, and political significance of Leonora Sansay’s Secret History (1808). The goal will be to understand through practice the nature of scholarly discourse and to attend to an ethics of constructing and forwarding scholarly arguments in responsive and responsible ways. In a typed collaboratively written document, each team will be required to summarize the main claims of each source, identify and describe the political, literary philosophies at work in each analysis, and assess how the operating field level beliefs, values, aims may or may not have affected the scholar’s approach and outcomes. In a typed document, each student of each team will be required to compose and hand in at least two counterpoints to the opposing team’s source argument. In writing out these counterpoints, the student will be required to identify (by naming) and frame (listing key beliefs, values, aims) their own methodology that informs his/her particular responses. See Week 14 for more details.

Term Project

Each student will be required to hand in a 15-20 page term paper that explores a key problematic introduced in this course through a reading and analysis of a pre-twentieth-century Caribbean primary source text.

Schedule

 

Course Schedule

Week 1

Reading and Writing the Colonial Archive

Within the Caribbean colonial archive, there remains an overwhelming absence of recorded African experiences, both in and outside the contexts of their forced enslavement. Such absences constitute a gap in Caribbean and Atlantic world histories. Where such textual histories are present, they are often mediated by the very same structures of knowledge and record keeping practices that were used to subjugate and subvert the voices they reflect. In their effort to recover where possible such experiences and histories, scholars attend to not only the limits of the archive but the ethical issues that arise in practices of “giving voice” to the voiceless. Not necessarily to overcome but to responsibly respond to these challenges, scholars often employ creative, self-reflexive strategies in their scholarly and theoretical approaches.

Reading Questions

  • As a concept, what are the similar and different ways these texts describe/understand and respond to the “archive”?
  • What is the role of poetics and the literary in writing histories for Caribbeanists? How does this constitute, or not constitute a productive response to the idea of historical “record”?
  • If Philip and Hartman accept they cannot recover a complete or authentic voice/history from the archive, what is it that they actually produce?

Primary

Philip, Marlene NourbeSe. Zong! Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2011.

Suggested

Secondary

Baucom, Ian. Specters of the Atlantic: Finance Capital, Slavery, and the Philosophy of History. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.

Hartman, Saidiya V. "The Dead Book." Lose

Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.

Suggested

Hartman, Saidiya. "Venus in Two Acts." Small Axe: a Journal of Criticism. (2008): 1-14. Print.

Morris, Rosalind C, and Gayatri C. Spivak. Can the Subaltern Speak?: Reflections on the History of an Idea. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.

Manoff, Marlene. "Theories of the Archive from Across the Disciplines." Portal: Libraries and the Academy. 4.1 (2004): 9-25.

Week 2

Writing the History of Empire in the Caribbean

Travel narratives constituted one of the most popular textual forms of the colonial period. Though not formally treated as literary modes, travel narratives, along with histories, treatises, reports, often made use of commonplace literary, rhetorical devices and narrative strategies, including appeals to pathos, use of plot, character development, metaphor, hyperbole, patterned structures, etc. These texts also served as much political and governmental aims as aesthetic ones. As an early account of the Caribbean, Tryon’s 1684 Friendly Advice is exemplary for a few notable reasons: As it catalogues and classifies the natural and cultural landscapes of the Caribbean space, it participates in the commodification practices of New World colonialism. It also seeks to extend its seemingly disinterested empirical observations to response in its final two sections that address the moral question of a slavery economy. A common critique of the texts by empire from twentieth-century Caribbeanists is the absence of any substantive or sustained criticism of the slave system. Krise notes, however, Tryon’s Friendly Advice (particularly the “Dialogue” in the final section) is an early example of a critique or at least concern of slavery and “attempts to represent the enslaved African’s point of view.”

Reading Questions

  • What if any notable formal and conceptual differences are there between the literary and the political aims of the text?
  • What does the final “Dialogue” contribute to the social critique offered in section 2?
  • As a mediated narrative, what does the “Dialogue” offer us in thinking more critically about the concept of representativeness?

Primary

Tryon, Thomas. Friendly Advice to the Gentlemen-Planters of the East and West Indies: In Three Parts. London: Printed by Andrew Sowle, 1684.

Suggested

Long, Edward. The History of Jamaica: Or, General Survey of the Antient and Modern State of That Island, with Reflections on Its Situation, Settlements, Inhabitants, Climate, Products, Commerce. (1774) Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010. Print.

Ligon, Richard. A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados. Edited by Karen Ordahl Kupperman. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2011.

Edwards, Bryan. The History, Civil and Commercial, of the British Colonies in the West Indies. 3d ed. 3 vols. London: J. Stockdale, 1801

Secondary

Goveia, Elsa. A Study of the Historiography of the British West Indies to the End of the Nineteenth Century. 1956. 2nd ed. Washington: Howard UP, 1980.

Suggested

Week 3

(un)Worlding an Imagined Caribbean

As more accounts of the Caribbean and events surrounding New world travel were being brought back from the colonies, the “West Indies” began to acquire widespread entertainment appeal for British audiences. The trope of the “New World” quickly became adopted by writers seeking to capitalize on and dramatize the imagined realities Europeans mapped onto this seemingly other-worldly space. From Shakespeare to Behn to Southerne to Defoe, writers transformed and deformed the reports of shipwrecks, accounts of indigenous peoples, and relations of colonialist practices into fantastical narratives of warring nations, social instability, monstrous communities, and metaphysical theories. Popular in its own time, Shakespeare’s 1611 play, The Tempest has become a canonical text for Caribbeanist scholars who have sought to critique western practices of othering the colonial subject through practices in aestheticization and language during the colonial period and beyond. From a Caribbeanist perspective, The Tempest represents both the history and legacy of colonial erasure as it also underscores the processes of both domination and subversion through language systems. Contemporary Caribbeanist writers have sought to adapt the play to respond to empire (Césaire) and have employed it as an organizing framework for theorizing the subject of exile (Lamming; Margaret) produced by colonialism.   

Reading Questions

  • In what ways do the utopian and dystopian aspects of the play reveal Elizabethan attitudes toward the colonial project?
  • Can we read Shakespeare’s Caliban as a subversive figure?
  • What does Lamming mean by his reading of Caliban as being “blasphemous”?
  • What’s the significance of Lamming’s use of the epigraph, “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awaken”?

Primary

Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. 1611

Suggested

Behn, Aphra. Oroonoko; or, The Royal Slave. Edited by Catherine Gallagher. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000 (1688).

Southerne, Thomas. Oroonoko: A Tragedy. London [i.e. The Hague: Printed for the Company [or rather, T. Johnson, 1720.

Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. 1719.

Césaire, Aimé. A Tempest: Based on Shakespeare's the Tempest : Adaptation for a Black Theatre. New York, NY: Ubu Repertory Theater, 1992. Print.

Secondary

Lamming, George. The Pleasures of Exile. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1960. Print.

Joseph, Margaret P. “Caliban the Excluded.” Caliban in Exile: The Outsider in Caribbean Fiction. New York: Greenwood Press, 1992. (1-20)

Suggested

Hulme, Peter. Colonial Encounters: Europe and the Native Caribbean, 1492–1797. London: Methuen, 1986.

Wynter, Sylvia. "Beyond Miranda's Meanings: Un/silencing the 'Demonic Ground' of Caliban's 'Woman,'" "Afterword" in Carole Boyce Davies and Elaine Savory (eds), Out of the Kumbla: Caribbean Women and Literature, Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. 1990.

Week 4

The Poetics of Empire

Poetry was a popular genre of the eighteenth and nineteenth-century Atlantic world, as it was a common mode through which writers would document through pastoral imagery and georgic didacticism the social, technical, and political conditions of the Caribbean region. Grainger’s Sugar-Cane (1764) has become a foundational text for examining the poetics of empire among scholars studying the pre-emancipation period. Grainger’s poetics operates through appeals to the grandeur of empire and the mechanisms of production, yet glosses the labor and human cost behind this production for the sake of romanticizing the colonial project. The anonymously published Jamaica (1777), often read by scholars as having been a response to Grainger’s Sugar-Cane, posits an argument against slavery. Chapman’s 1833 Barbados, composed in the context of eventual emancipation, advanced an idealized vision of the past through a rhetoric of pro-slavery.

Reading Questions

  • In what ways does Grainger’s poem reflect more a desired or desirable image of the Caribbean rather than an “authentic” image?
  • What is the rhetorical and epistemological function of Grainger’s detailed notes?
  • How does either text advance or avoid a critique of slavery in their poetics?

Primary

Grainger, James. The Sugar-Cane: A Poem: In Four Books, with Notes. London: R. and J. Dodsley, 1764.

Jamaica, a Poem in Three Parts, Written in that Island, in the Year MDCCLXXVI. To Which Is Annexed, a Poetical Epistle from the Author in that Island to a Friend in England. London: William Nicoll, 1777.

Suggested

Chapman, Matthew J. Barbadoes, and Other Poems. London: James Fraser, 1833.

Secondary

Basker, James G., ed. "Introduction." Amazing Grace: An Anthology of Poems about Slavery, 1660–1810. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005.

Gilmore, John. “Introduction.” The Poetics of Empire: A Study of James Grainger’s The Sugar-Cane. London: Athlone, 2000 (1-85).

Suggested

Baugh, Edward. “A History of Poetry.” In A History of Literature in the Caribbean. Vol. 2.English- and Dutch-Speaking Regions. Edited by A. James Arnold, 227–284. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2001.

Week 5

Empire in Exile

Scholars of the Caribbean study the ways “exile” was a commonplace psycho-social condition of both free and enslaved, European and African populations in the colonies. Creole as a category of identity was often pejoratively characterized from a European perspective as a degeneration of culture through the mixing of language, culture, and “blood.” Many of the accounts that detail the daily life and sentiments of creole communities in the colonial Caribbean come from non-fiction modes of diaries, journals, and newspapers. Lady Nugent’s Journal is often cited for its criticism of the creolizing effects of Caribbean life, as it contends the “broken English” spoken by mistresses and servants was sign of an apparent dissolving of English culture. Thistlewood’s Diaries, recently recovered by scholars, provides a devastating account through the author’s daily notes of the quotidian violence, lust, and greed of whites in Jamaica, of which he was a direct participant.  

Reading Questions

  • Though Nugent’s journal oftentimes focuses primarily on the daily business of the governor and the operations of the plantation, in what ways does it reveal the broader events and conditions of creole life?
  • While offering overtly racist opinions of Africans and African cultural practices, in what ways does she interact with African communities?
  • Is it possible to read either account, despite being dismissive of creole culture and/or unapologetically racist toward Africans, as providing historical and cultural record of Caribbean creole life?

Primary

Nugent, Maria. Lady Nugent’s Journal of Her Residence in Jamaica from 1801 to 1805. Edited by Philip Wright. Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press, 2002. (1839)

(excerpts) Thistlewood, Thomas. Diaries, 1748–1786. Burnard, Trevor G. Mastery, Tyranny, and Desire: Thomas Thistlewood and His Slaves in the Anglo-Jamaican World. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

(excerpts) Keimer, Samuel. Caribbeana. London: Printed for T. Osborne. 1741.

Suggested

Schaw, Janet. Journal of a Lady of Quality: Being the Narrative of a Journey from Scotland to the West Indies, North Carolina, and Portugal, in the Years 1774–1776. Edited by Evangeline Walker Andrews and Charles McLean Andrews. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005.

Secondary

Wynter, Sylvia. "Lady Nugent's Journal." In Caribbean Women: An Anthology of Non-Fiction Writing, 1890-1980, ed. Veronica Gregg. Notre Dame, Ind: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005. Print.

Burnard, Trevor G. “Introduction.” Mastery, Tyranny, and Desire: Thomas Thistlewood and His Slaves in the Anglo-Jamaican World. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004

Suggested

D'Costa, Jean, and Barbara Lalla. "Introduction." Voices in Exile: Jamaican Texts of the 18th and 19th Centuries. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1989. Print. (1-8)

Brathwaite, Kamau. The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica, 1770-1820. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971. Print.

Lamming, George. The Pleasures of Exile. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1960. Print.

Thomas, Isaiah, Benjamin F. Thomas, Samuel F. Haven, and John R. Bartlett. The History of Printing in America: With a Biography of Printers, and an Account of Newspapers. Albany: J. Munsell, 1874. Print.

Swan, Bradford F. The Caribbean Area: the Spread of Print, Western Hemisphere. Amsterdam, Van Gendt & Co. 1970. Print

Week 6

Fictionalizing the Subject of Blackness

Focusing on topics of slave insurrection (Mansong, Hamel) to mixed race creoles (Creoleana, Inkle and Yarico) to planter culture (Marly) to maritime adventures (Cringle), creative fiction by the nineteenth-century had become a popular mode for narrating the Caribbean. According to Brathwaite, the novels of or about the Caribbean during this period lacked “innovativeness” in their (in)ability to capture or contend with the interiority and experience of black subjectivity. The presence of blackness in Caribbean novels was largely in mediated or ventriloquized form, as the majority of writers of creative literature were white (Philip excluded) and often failed to either address critically the forced enslavement of Africans or to acknowledge the writer's own implicatedness in this system. Scholars of textual analysis often mark a difference between fiction and nonfiction as between the mode of creative expression (in the former) where meaning thrives in the complexities of language and the mode of information exchange (in the latter) where communication avoids the disruptions and complexities of meaning-making at all costs. Scholars of the Caribbean situate their analysis in the space between these two modes of textuality, as concepts of authenticity and authorship and the line between fact and fiction were always in flux. Neither traditionally read as novels nor, in their historical moment, works of creative literature, Bon Saam (1735) and Campo-Bell (1736) illustrate the formal and rhetorical literariness at work in composing a personality of text that complicates the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction, narrative and history. Bon Saam’s speech, as purportedly spoken by a Maroon leader, offers a critique of slavery from the (formerly) enslaved person’s perspective. Campo-Bell’s speech, while publicized as also by a black speaker, was actually written by a white planter, Robert Robertson, as a ventriloquized pro-slavery argument.  

Reading Questions

  • How might you describe the personality of the text that through rhetorical maneuvers and formal structures the writers sought to imitate “authentic” black subjectivity, voice, experience?
  • If we cannot read either of theses as verifiably true accounts, how should we read them? That is, what might a literary rather than historical approach offer scholars of these texts? What are the distinctions between, if any, narrative and record, novels and histories?

Primary

“The Speech of Moses Bon Saam” (1735)

The Speech of Mr. John Talbot Campo-Bell (1736)

Suggested

“A Speech Made by a Black of Guardaloupe” (1709)

Williams, Cynric R. Hamel, the Obeah Man. Edited by Candace Ward and Tim Watson. Peterborough, Canada: Broadview, 2010.

Philip, Maxwell. Emmanuel Appadocca: or, Blighted Life: A Tale of Boucaneers. Edited by Selwyn R. Cudjoe. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1997.

Felsenstein, Frank, ed. English Trader, Indian Maid: Representing Gender, Race, and Slavery in the New World: An Inkle and Yarico Reader. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Earle, William. Obi, or, The History of Three-Fingered Jack. Edited by Srinivas Aravamudan Peterborough, Canada: Broadview, 2005.

Scott, Michael. Tom Cringle’s Log. Ithaca, NY: McBooks, 1999.

Williamson, Karina, ed. Marly; or, A Planter’s Life in Jamaica. Oxford: Macmillan Caribbean, 2005.

Orderson, J.W. Creoleana and the Fair Barbadian and Faithful Black.

Secondary

Brathwaite, Kamau. “Creative Literature of the British West Indies during the Period of Slavery.” In Roots. By Kamau Brathwaite, 127–170. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993.

Lalla, Barbara, D'Costa, Jean, and Pollard, Velma. Caribbean Literary Discourse : Voice and Cultural Identity in the Anglophone Caribbean. Tuscaloosa, AL, USA: University Alabama Press, 2014. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 16 July 2015.

Suggested

Ward, Candace. “‘What Time Has Proved’: History, Rebellion, and Revolution in Hamel, the Obeah Man.” ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature 38.1 (2007): 49–74.

James, Louis. Caribbean Literature in English. London: Longman, 1999. Print.

Watson, Tim. Caribbean Culture and British Fiction in the Atlantic World, 1780–1870. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Lalla, Barbara. Defining Jamaica Fiction: Marronage and the Discourse of Survival. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1996.

Week 7

Toward a Poetics of [h]istory

While early twentieth-century Caribbeanists were critical of the literature produced during the colonial period, they continually engaged the colonial archive as a way of studying and re-writing an imperial history to the Caribbean in a post-colonial context. Oftentimes blending poetics with criticism, autobiography with cultural anthropology, early Caribbeanists modeled methods for making “intelligible” the black subject and the subjectivity of blackness that had been historically bound by a racialized state of “exception.” The revolution at Saint-Domingue and Haiti as the first independent black post-colonial nation-state are central to a Caribbeanist methodology that seeks to revise theories of history, humanism, universality, self-determination, and freedom that have framed the narrative of African servitude and rebellion in a Caribbean context.

Reading Questions

  • In what ways do James and Walcott’s ideas of history and history writing relate/differ?
  • Is there a “poetics” at work in James’ account of the revolution?
  • What does James mean in stating, “The book is a history of a revolution and written under different circumstances it would have been a different but not necessarily a better book”?

Primary

James, C L. R. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. New York: Vintage Books, 1963. Print. http://www.ouleft.org/wp-content/uploads/CLR_James_The_Black_Jacobins.pdf

Suggested

Secondary

Walcott, Derek. “Muse of History.” What the Twilight Says: Essays. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1998. (36-64).

Scott, D. "The Theory of Haiti: the Black Jacobins and the Poetics of Universal History." Small Axe: a Caribbean Journal of Criticism. 18 (2014): 35-51.

Suggested

Michel-Rolph Trouillot, “The Odd and the Ordinary: Haiti, the Caribbean, and the World,” Cimarron 2, no. 3 (1990)

Laurent Dubois, Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004)

Fischer, Sibylle. Modernity Disavowed: Haiti and the Cultures of Slavery in the Age of Revolution. Durham: Duke University Press, 2004. Print.

Week 9

(Due: Assignment): Recomposing Caribbean Literary Histories: Anthologies of Early Anglophone Caribbean Literature

Summary: The genre of the literary anthology has played a central role in the continued development of the field of early Anglophone Caribbean literary studies. In addition to providing researchers access to important and oftentimes understudied primary source material, these volumes help new and returning audiences to better situate their engagement of early Caribbean literary history within specific social, cultural, and political contexts. Editors of anthologies engage in a selective process of identifying and curating primary source materials. They tend to identify and respond to particular areas of need within certain scholarly communities. And they seek to inform and guide their audiences by way of detailed introductions to their selected source texts (often including bibliographic and publishing histories, overviews of related historical events, and biographic data on authors, editors, printers, etc.).

The primary goal of this assignment is to assess how, at the level of both form and content, the literary anthology contributes as both a scholarly resource and as a potential intervention (anthologies are themselves forms of scholarship; they identify theoretical problematics and practical problems impacting the field, take political and ideological positions, forward arguments through textual analysis, and seek to produce new knowledges and insights for the field).

This assignment has two parts. And Part 1 will guide you toward completing part 2:

Part 1: Rhetorical Analysis: select (from the list below) at least three anthologies to perform an introductory analysis of the genre at the level of form and content. Looking to the introductions, context narratives, literary content, format, etc., you will consider the scholarly purpose or focus of the anthology (e.g., is it focused on a particular literary moment, genre, problematic?) and its contribution--in short, what does it offer the field? Key here is to understanding both the scholarly purpose of the project and assessing how it attempts to achieve this purpose. What is the key problematic of the field that motivates the creation of the anthology? What is the anthology trying to accomplish? For whom is it trying to accomplish it? Take careful notes of what you are seeing, as these will be useful in completing Part 2 and you will submit these notes for review.

Part 2: Create your own anthology: using your sample anthologies as example, identify a new or existing problematic of the field that would motivate you to curate a new anthology. You will write a 500+ word introduction that states the purpose of your anthology by citing (in scholarship and/or from other anthologies) the existing gap/problematic and topic. You will then offer a 500+ word "About" section that explains your methods for composing your anthology, based on your rhetorical analysis of your three examples. Your anthology must include at least 5 primary sources organized around your topic. These sources do not need to be unpublished or new. You may remix content from other anthologies. You will include a headnote (2+ paragraphs) to each source that briefly summarizes the source's publication history, authorship, and content/narrative. You will also include 2+ scholarly sources that can offer your reader further discussion of the piece or its key theme(s). Please include appropriate citations for your content.

Primary Examples

Mintz, Sidney W, and Sally Price. Caribbean Contours. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985. Print.

D'Costa, Jean, and Barbara Lalla. Voices in Exile: Jamaican Texts of the 18th and 19th Centuries. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1989. Print.

Boyce, Davies C, and Elaine Savory. Out of the Kumbla: Caribbean Women and Literature. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1990. Print.

Ferguson, Moira. Nine Black Women: An Anthology of Nineteenth-Century Writers from the United States, Canada, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. New York: Routledge, 1998. Print

Krise, Thomas W. Caribbeana: An Anthology of English Literature of the West Indies, 1657-1777. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999. Print.

Williamson, Karina. Contrary Voices: Representations of West Indian Slavery, 1657–1834. Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press, 2008.

Basker, James G., ed. Amazing Grace: An Anthology of Poems about Slavery, 1660–1810. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005.

Secondary

Krise, Thomas W.  "Constructing Caribbean Literary History." Literature Compass. 2.1 (2005). Print.

Walcott, Derek. “A Frowsty Fragrance.” New York Review of Books, 15 June 2000, 57–61.

Week 10

A Creole Colonial Counter-Poetics

Where contemporary Caribbeanists theorized poetics could recompose a critical history of the Caribbean, early Caribbeanist emphasize the importance of poetics in the colonial period as well, arguing “[s]ong marked the culture of exiled Af­ri­cans in the Americas,” Jean D’Costa writes. While often indirect transcriptions of what they heard, whites traveling to or living in the Caribbean recorded a great number of slave songs in their narratives. From funeral rituals to stories of runaways to the threat of sexual violence of whites toward enslaved women, the colonial archive includes a notable amount of mediated poetic expressions by enslaved persons. Where poetry served the purposes of colonial enterprise, it was also a genre through which writers critiqued slavery and empire in the Caribbean. Williams and his poetry represent for scholars the “double exile” of the free and educated black writer between a white culture that denied or dismissed intellectual or creative practice of Africans and the enslaved communities on whose behalf he spoke out against African subjugation.

Reading Questions

  • In what ways, both linguistic and conceptual, does Williams’ critique of slavery and subjugation differ from the slave songs?
  • What purposes did the slave song serve in being so commonly reproduced within the publications by white writers?
  • What are the ethical conditions and epistemological limits we face in making meaning out of these poetic accounts?

Primary

Francis Williams, "To that most upright and valiant Man, GEORGE HALDANE, Esq. An Ode." (In Edward Long's History of Jamaica); “Welcome, Welcome, Brother Debtor”

"Me Know No Law, Me Know No Sin"; “If Me Want fe Go in a Ebo”; “Tajo! My Mackey Massa!” J. B. Moreton, West India Customs and Manners

“The Runaway” Voices in Exile. (31-2)

Suggested

Secondary

D'Costa, Jean, and Barbara Lalla. "Introduction." Voices in Exile: Jamaican Texts of the 18th and 19th Centuries. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1989. Print. (1-8)

D’Costa, Jean. “Oral Literature, Formal Literature: The Formation of Genre in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 27.4 (1994): 663–676.

Suggested

Lalla, Barbara, and Jean D'Costa. Language in Exile: Three Hundred Years of Jamaican Creole. Tuscaloosa, Ala: University of Alabama Press, 1990.

Week 11

Mobility and “Migrations of the Subject” of Women’s Writing in the Colonial Caribbean

Numerous accounts of the colonial Caribbean were narrated by both free and (formerly)enslaved white and black women writers. For enslaved women, print was a mode through which to record their personal experiences of the horrors of slavery in the Caribbean. Scholars have pointed out how in some cases, these narratives served the purposes of recording the patriarchal conditions women faced; in others, they served as a challenge to such conditions. Prince’s narrative details the bodily violence she and others endured working in the salt ponds. Her narrative also reflects, however, her movements within and outside the Caribbean region, which offers scholars evidence that free and enslaved women were highly mobile and, oftentimes, by means of their own efforts. The texts composed by Seacole and the Hart sisters detail not only the mobility of women in the Caribbean but varied attitudes among free blacks regarding slavery and rebellion. Where the Hart sisters were actively against slavery, Seacole focuses more on her family, operating ideas about the position of “creole women,” the threat of disease, and her travels in and outside the Caribbean.

Reading Questions

  • In what ways similar and different do both narratives mobilize female subjectivity?
  • In addition to the experience of enslavement, in what ways do these narratives offer different accounts of life in the Caribbean for women?
  • In what ways do these accounts function as autobiography?

Primary

(Excerpt from Ferguson, Nine Black Women) Mary Seacole. The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857).

(Excerpt from Ferguson, Nine Black Women) Prince, Mary. The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave. Edited by Sara Salih. London: Penguin, 2004. (1831)

The Ingenious Lady of Barbados, 1741.

Suggested

Anonymous. The Woman of Colour. 1808.

Ferguson, Moira, ed. The Hart Sisters: Early African Caribbean Writers, Evangelicals, and Radicals. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.

Secondary

Ferguson, Moira. “Introduction.” Nine Black Women: An Anthology of Nineteenth-Century Writers from the United States, Canada, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. New York: Routledge, 1998. Print

Boyce, Davies C. Black Women, Writing, and Identity: Migrations of the Subject. London: Routledge, 1994.

Suggested

Ferguson, Moira, ed. “Introduction.” The Hart Sisters: Early African Caribbean Writers, Evangelicals, and Radicals. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993. (1-56)

Boyce, Davies C, and Elaine Savory. Out of the Kumbla: Caribbean Women and Literature. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1990. Print.

Sharpe, Jenny. Ghosts of Slavery: A Literary Archaeology of Black Women’s Lives. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003.

Wynter, Sylvia. "Beyond Miranda's Meanings: Un/silencing the 'Demonic Ground' of Caliban's 'Woman,'" "Afterword" in Carole Boyce Davies and Elaine Savory (eds), Out of the Kumbla: Caribbean Women and Literature, Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. 1990.

Week 12

Mediation and Embedded Narratives

The majority of accounts by enslaved persons during the colonial period were recorded in mediated form. While early scholars of the Caribbean often struggled with these narratives due to questions of authenticity or authorial control, scholars now approach these materials to study how mediation and “embeddedness” were unavoidable conditions for these persons to enter into print. Exploring the genre of the slave narrative in its Atlantic context, Caribbean scholars examine the autopoiesis taking place even in processes of translation and mediation. Additionally, scholars reconsider the problematics of authenticity by noting how the overwhelming popularity of what contemporaries termed the “slave narrative” reveal the ideological and social functions of genre despite concerns over authentication.

Reading Questions

  • What might have been the purpose for including Asa-Asa’s narrative as an appendix to Prince’s?
  • Do the editors of these narratives reveal an ethical framework for recording these narratives? what might this say about existing ideas of authorship and authenticity?
  • What's at stake in discussing the slave narrative genre as either biographical record or creative life narrative?

Primary

Asa-Asa, Louis. NARRATIVE OF LOUIS ASA-ASA, A CAPTURED AFRICAN. In The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave. 1831.

“The Narratives of Ashy & Sibell.” 1799–1820. In Handler, Jerome. “Life Histories of Enslaved Africans in Barbados.” Slavery and Abolition 19.1 (1998): 129–140.

Stedman, John G. Narrative of Joanna, an Emancipated Slave of Surinam: From Stedman’s Narrative of a Five Year’s Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam. Boston: I. Knapp, 1838.

Suggested

Prince, Mary. The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave. Edited by Sara Salih. London: Penguin, 2004. (1831)

Secondary

Aljoe, Nicole N. "Creole Testimony and the Black Atlantic: Remapping the Early Slave Narrative." Creole Testimonies: Slave Narratives from the British West Indies, 1709-1838. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. Print.

Suggested

O’Callaghan, Evelyn. “Early Colonial Narratives of the West Indies: Lady Nugent, Eliza Fenwick, Matthew Lewis and Frieda Cassin.” In The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature. Edited by

Michael A. Bucknor and Alison Donnell, 149–156. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2011.

Aljoe, Nicole N. Creole Testimonies: Slave Narratives from the British West Indies, 1709-1838. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. Print.

Week 13

A Transatlantic Caribbean

The Caribbean was a central node within a broader economic, political, and cultural matrix of the Atlantic world throughout the colonial period. It was the site of economic and political (in)stability for european powers (and eventually the U.S.) as it was also the source of social and moral anxiety. There was a constant flow of commodities, persons, knowledges, and narratives coming in and out of the Caribbean. Scholars have looked to such narratives as Equiano’s Interesting Narrative (1789), the anonymous Woman of Colour (1808), and Prince’s History of Mary Prince (1831) to study the mobility of Afro-Caribbeans in and outside the Caribbean region. In recent years, scholars from outside the field of Caribbean studies (particularly early Americanists) have turned to the Caribbean as a new and necessary site of literary history in response to these transatlantic and hemispheric flows and impacts.

Reading Questions

  • As outlined in Davidson’s analysis, what is the relation between narrative and the novel, between fiction and autobiography?
  • If not entirely autobiography or life history, what is the literary and theoretical import of Equiano’s narrative?
  • how does a transatlantic framework revise our understanding of history, culture, subjectivity? that is, what's the effect of destabilizing such concepts?
  • what's at stake in scholars claiming texts on behalf of national literary histories?

Primary

Equiano, Olaudah. The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings. Rev. ed. Edited by Vincent Carretta. New York: Penguin, 2003. (1789)

Suggested

Anonymous. The Woman of Colour. 1808.

Prince, Mary. The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave. Edited by Sara Salih. London: Penguin, 2004. (1831)

Freneau, Philip M. Poems Written between the Years 1768 & 1794. Monmouth, NJ: Philip M. Freneau, 1795.

Secondary

Davidson, Cathy N. "Olaudah Equiano, Written by Himself." Novel; a Forum on Fiction. 40.2 (2007): 18. Print

Suggested

(for more scholarship informing the turn to the Caribbean in early American studies, see,

Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1993. Print.

Goudie, Sean X. Creole America: The West Indies and the Formation of Literature and Culture in the New Republic. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006. Print.

O'Shaughnessy, Andrew J. An Empire Divided: The American Revolution and the British Caribbean. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000. Print.

Pease, Donald E. National Identities and Post-Americanist Narratives. Durham, N.C: Duke University Press, 1994. Print.)

Roach, Joseph R. Cities of the Dead: Circum-atlantic Performance. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996. Print.

Spengemann, William C. "The Earliest American Novel: Aphra Behn's Oroonoko." Nineteenth-century Fiction. 38.4 (1984): 384-414. Print.

Week 14

Toward an Ethics of Methodology

A Caribbeanist model of literary criticism helps to make more visible the ethical and interpretive limits of scholarly methodologies for attending to the problematics of social theory. That is, it views as its starting point the epistemological and ideological boundaries from which we try to, and often fail to, make meaning and meaningful the value of human experience in transhistorical, cross-cultural, inter-subjective contexts. Narrating the peak of rebellion to the subsequent dismantling of the colonial social, economic, and political order written from the perspective of a white American woman, Secret History (1808) has become a foundational text for transatlantic scholars studying the literary Caribbean. It offers them a window into the social and political impacts of the event of the Haitian revolution and black independence on local and international scales. The significance of this historical political event often depends upon not only the storifying structures of its literary form but on the interpretive aims and practices of scholars approaching its assessment. This week we will examine both the Americanist perspective on the Haitian revolution in a nineteenth-century context and present approaches by Americanists studying this event through literature. We will consider in particular the ways scholarly methodologies can pre-determine the conclusions we draw, which suggests we should establish a critical, ethical relation toward our own and others’ methodological frames. But even as we become more aware of the limits of our interpretative frames/aims, we should consider as well what might be at issue in “defining the Caribbean in terms of its resistance to the different methodologies summoned to investigate it” (Benitez-Rojo).

Reading Questions

  • .
  • .

Primary

Sansay, Leonora. Secret History, Or, the Horrors of St. Domingo (in Michael J. Drexler’s Secret History, Or, the Horrors of St. Domingo : And, Laura. Peterborough, Ont: Broadview, 2007.)

Suggested

Secondary

Drexler, Michael J. “Introduction.” Secret History, Or, the Horrors of St. Domingo: And, Laura. Peterborough, Ont: Broadview, 2007.

Dillon, Elizabeth M. "The Secret History of the Early American Novel: Leonora Sansay and the Revolution in Saint Domingue." Novel; a Forum on Fiction. 40.2 (2007): 77. Print.

Liu, T.P. "The Secret Beyond White Patriarchal Power: Race, Gender, and Freedom in the Last Days of Colonial Saint-Domingue." French Historical Studies. 33.3 (2010): 387-416.

Suggested

Fischer, Sibylle. Modernity Disavowed: Haiti and the Cultures of Slavery in the Age of Revolution. Durham: Duke University Press, 2004. Print.

Benítez, Rojo A. The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective. Durham: Duke University Press, 1992.

 

 

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