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CARACOL Conference

Call for papers

CARACOL Annual Conference 2022

In association with the Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies

(University of Warwick)


“Caribbean poetics: voices, aesthetics, imaginaries”


Organisers :

Orane ONYEKPE-TOUZET (University of Warwick/Sorbonne Université)

Rocío MUNGUIA AGUILAR (Université de Strasbourg)

Dates : 06-07 May 2022

Modalité: On line


Deadline for abstracts : 06 February 2022


The notion of poetics first referring to a theory of artistic creation has taken on different meanings and has been used in various disciplines over the centuries, showing its versatility and its ability to reflect a wide range of voices, aesthetics and imaginaries. While in the 500 BC, Aristotle's thoughts focused on the question of Beauty and as such on the question of the craftsmanship or on the poet-craftsman’s process of making and purifying the “line”, new approaches focusing on the “sign” in creative works (M. Heidegger), or on its active rhetorical aspect and as its such poet(h)ic (P. Ricoeur) appeared, excavating the multiple potentiality of the notion.

In the Caribbean context, many thinkers gave the notion of poetics a geographical aspect where space and imaginary meet (K. Brathwaite, The Arrivants: A New World Trilogy: Rights of Passage, Islands, Masks, 1973 ; É. Glissant, Poétique de la relation, 1990 ; É. Glissant, Introduction à une poétique du divers, 1996 ; W. Harris, The Womb of Space, the Cross-Cultural Imagination, 1983 ; D. Maximin, Les Fruits du cyclone : une géopoétique de la Caraïbe, Paris, Seuil, 2006). The relationship between literature and world view appears to be particularly central and partly justifies how relevant this notion has proven to be. Édouard Glissant for example, chooses the word poetics to replace that of philosophy as the latter has the tendency to refer to a western way of thinking within systems and leaves little space for diversity and unpredictability. He attempts to think without systems, through literature, poetry and the imaginary. Hence, the term poetics seems to offer the possibility of exploring how literary creation and understanding of the world intertwine. Because for Patrick Chamoiseau who builds on Glissant’s thoughts, “Ecrire en pays dominé” (Writing in a dominated land) also means “inventing” the world to free it/oneself.

Academics also explore these questions as they try to define the limits of a literary field which is as rich as linguistically and culturally diverse. The notion of poetics, often used in a comparatist approach, appears to be a fruitful tool of analysis in academic works but is rarely problematised in relation to the Caribbean space itself. At times associated with thinking the world through literature or literature in the world (Dash, 1994), at other times with a “champ d’exploration” (“field of exploration”, Duff, 2008), “motifs” (Monet-Descombey, 2017), a “sphère” (Boisseron, 2019), or a writer’s practice/aesthetic (Réjouis, 2003), it appears that poetics is often thought of as a “fil conducteur” (“common thread”, Aïta, 2011) which aims at confronting different Caribbean expressions.

This conference proposes to question in an original way the fertility of the notion of poetics for our research into literary practices of Caribbean writers. We particularly encourage reflective works on the notion - the question of aesthetics, writer’s voices, imaginaries and itineraries can thus be explored. What is “poetics” for Caribbean writers? How can a writer’s poetics be defined? Can we speak of Caribbean poetics? What is the relationship between poetics and politics in the Caribbean? Has the notion of poetics been used in the same way in academic research in French, English and Spanish? Abstracts may focus on writers of any of the linguistic areas of the Caribbean. They may explore the following aspects of the notion.


1- Poetic and Language

In the Caribbean the choice of languages is always meaningful. It often springs from an identity-based, ideological and aesthetical situation (in both meanings of the word) which outlines poetics (J. Bernabé, P. Chamoiseau, R. Confiant, 1989). Thus, the unique way writers create their own language is part of defining poetics (É. Glissant, 1981). Many Caribbean writers also question the ability of language to express reality and borrow their means of expressions to other art forms (E. Lovelace, 1979). We welcome presentations which question the role of language(s) in the construction of poetics as well as reflections on the limits of language, intermedial approaches and stylistic experimentations (N. Yassine-Diab, 2014). How important are linguistic choices and creations in the development of writers' poetics? Which languages for a Caribbean poetics? Is there a Caribbean poetics which would be defined by a specific relationship of writers to language? Does the variety of the Caribbean linguistic landscape prevent us from identifying a unified poetics?


2- Poetic and world view

If the word poetics points towards a world view which comes from a kind of invention, or to use Glissant’s word “imagination”, the literary text becomes the place where the relation to reality is recast (É. Glissant, 1990). In short, we invite studies which focus on the attempts at reinventing the world that can be found in literary creations. It is also an invitation to question the proposals Caribbean creations make and bring them together in what we could call Caribbean poetics. Ways of thinking the world through and within literature which have had an important influence on Caribbean writers such as “real maravilloso” (A.Carpentier, 1949), the “réalisme merveilleux” ( J.S. Alexis, 1952) or magical realism can thus be explored. Academic attempts at formulating such Caribbean poetics such as “poétiques baroques” (Chancé, 2001) or “transcaribbean poetics” (R. Réjouis, 2003) can also be examined. Which worldview exists within writers’ poetics? What is the impact of aesthetic on reinventing the world? How to think in literature? Which poetics to say the Caribbean world(s)? Why do Caribbean writers write?


3- Ecopoetics

In a world where the ecological crisis continues to intensify and the social stakes of climate change and natural catastrophes are evolving at a rapid pace, the ecopoetic approach expresses the urgency of exploring environmental questions in literature. In the Caribbean where nature appears as a full blown character (D. Maximin, 2006), or as a monument, trace-witness part of an organic memory (É. Glissant, 1980), environmental consciousness present in texts often reflects diverse ethical, political and aesthetic choices. We thus invite abstracts which question the characteristics of a specifically Caribbean ecopoetics and the way both poetics and ecology interact with each other in that space. Which literary practices echo those complex environmental concerns in their multiple dimensions and scales? How does one make the historically imposed space one’s own and reveal the political stakes and potentiality of texts? How do writers invite a rethinking of ecologies from the Caribbean world and even demand, more or less explicitly, an active “decolonial ecology” (M. Ferdinand, 2019)? A reflection on the relationship between the representation of nature (in a wide sense) and the nature of writing is encouraged here.

4- Female Poetics

Long marked by the “presence-absence” of women in literature - erased from the field, made to appear present, represented ambiguously or stereotypically in texts (Kalisa, 2009) -, the Caribbean space now has a solid genealogy of female writers in all genres, languages and cultures. While the female novelists of the so-called “first generation” in the Francophone space (principally Michèle Lacrosil and Jacqueline Manicom) illustrate a writing tendency which reacts to the works of founding male figures, we note a progressive liberation of creative processes which often although not always meet around identity quests related to being a woman in the Caribbean. We welcome reflections on aesthetic voices, thematic choices and ethical ambitions which lead these quests and point towards a female poetics in the Caribbean. Can we detect within the voices, gestures and postures of women (writers and/or characters) a specific faculty when it comes to shedding light on parts of the Caribbean world, on its reality and its history? What are the potentialities and/or the limits of a gendered approach to fictional texts in this space? Far from seeing literary activities in an antagonistic perspective placing men and women on two opposite sides, this part of the call is the space to bring together the said “female” representations (offered by female writers) and the representation of females (offered by male writers) in order to discover common points and differences in imaginaries.


Please send abstracts in French, English or Spanish of 300 to 500 words as well as a short biography to Rocío Munguía and Orane Onyekpe-Touzet before 6th Febraury 2022.


Scientific committee:

Florian Alix (Sorbonne Université)

Pierre-Philippe Fraiture (University of Warwick)

John Gilmore (University of Warwick)

Rocío Munguía Aguilar (Université de Strasbourg)

Maeve McCusker (Queen’s University Belfast)

Orane Onyekpe-Touzet (University of Warwick/ Sorbonne Université)

Fabienne Viala (University of Warwick)


Bibliographie / Bibliography/ Bibiografía

Aïta Mariella, « Vers une poétique littéraire de la Caraïbe : de Carpentier à Simone Schwarz-Bart », SynergiesVenezuela, no 6, 2011, p. 11-22.

Amy de la Bretèque Pauline, Vers une poétique féminine de la créolisation : une pensée caribéenne et diasporique de la littérature de Jean Rhys, Paule Marshall, Michelle Cliff, Olive Senior et Jamaica Kincaid, thèse, 2020.

Aristote, Poétique, Paris, Les Belles lettres, 1932. Texte établi et traduit par Jean Hardy.

Bénac-Giroux Karine, Poétique et Politique de l’altérité: colonialisme, esclavagisme, exotisme (XVIIIe-XXIe siècles), Paris, Garnier, 2019.

Boisseron Monique, Regards croisés, Vision du Noir et expression poétique dans la Caraïbe hispanophone du XIXe et du début du XXe siècle, Paris, Garnier, 2019.

Brathwaite Kamau, The Arrivants: A New World Trilogy: Rights of Passage, Islands, Masks, Oxford, Oxford UP, 1973.

Chamoiseau Patrick, Écrire en pays dominé, Paris, Gallimard, coll. « Folio », 1997.

Chancé Dominique, Poétique baroque de la Caraïbe, Paris, Karthala, 2001.

Dash J. Michael, “Textual Error and Cultural Crossing: A Caribbean Poetics of Creolization”, Special Issue: Caribbean Literature, Research in African Literaturesvol. 25, n°. 2, 1994, p. 159-168.

Duff Christine, Univers intimes: pour une poétique de l’intériorité au féminin dans la littérature caribéenne, NewYork-Washington D.C.-Bern-Berlin, Peter Lang, 2008.

Flores-Rodriguez DaynaliTowards a trans-Caribbean poetics: A new aesthetics of power and resistance, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Thesis, 2011.

Giroux Laurent, « Éléments d’un art poétique national : Heidegger », Laval théologique et philosophique, vol. 52, no 1, 1996, p. 125.

Glissant Édouard, Introduction à une poétique du divers, Paris, Gallimard, 1996.

Glissant Édouard, Poétique de la relation, Paris, Gallimard, 1990.

Harris Wilson, The Womb of Space, the Cross-Cultural Imagination, Greenwood Press, 1983.

Maximin Daniel, Les Fruits du cyclone : une géopoétique de la Caraïbe, Paris, Seuil, 2006.

Monet-Desombey Hernandez Sandra, « Poétiques mémorielles et imaginaire collectif : canne à sucre et émancipation en Caraïbe », Canne à sucre en Caraïbe Héritages et recompositionsCaravelle, no 109, 2017, p. 45-62.

Morejon Nancy, “Toward a Poetics of the Caribbean”,  World Literature Today; Norman, Okla., Vol. 76, Iss. 3, 2002, p. 52-53.

Torres-Saillant Silvio A., Caribbean poetics: Aesthetics of marginality in West Indian literature, thesis, 1991.

Réjouis Rose-Myriam, “Caribbean Writers and Language: The Autobiographical Poetics of Jamaica Kincaid and Patrick Chamoiseau”, A Gathering in Honor of Jules ChametzkyThe Massachusetts Review, Vol. 44, No. 1/2,, 2003, p. 213-232.

Ricœur Paul, Du texte à l’action: essais d’herméneutique II, Paris, Seuil, 1986.