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EN9A2 The Caribbean: Literature and Global Modernity

Term One, Thursday: 16:00 – 18:00

Room: H522

Module Convenors:

Dr. Chris Campbell (

Dr. Michael Niblett (

Module Rationale:
This module introduces a broad range of novels, poetry, short stories, films, and non-fiction from across the Caribbean. The texts we will consider all offer valuable and challenging perspectives on the region’s complex history and its position within the modern world-system. From enslavement and the plantation through to tourism and off-shore finance, the Caribbean has been a crucible of colonial violence, imperialist domination, revolution and resistance. Over the course of this module we will be looking at the ways in which writers and thinkers have grappled with this legacy, producing formally-innovative fictions and forging new theoretical paradigms. In so doing they have dramatized and critiqued the long history of global capitalist modernity, the unfolding of which has fundamentally shaped -- and been shaped by -- the development of this culturally diverse archipelago.

During this module we aim to familiarize you with the critical debates surrounding Caribbean literature from the nineteenth century through to the present day. We will consider the ways in which cultural forms mediate political and social upheavals such as decolonization, post-independence retrenchment, and neoliberal globalisation. We will be studying texts from the Anglophone, Francophone, Hispanophone and Dutch Caribbean, all of which articulate the very particular experiences of the different societies that constitute the region. (The definition of the geographical and geopolitical extent of the Caribbean is itself an issue of much debate – where does “the Caribbean” end, what does it include?) On the one hand, the situations of revolutionary Cuba, departmentalized Martinique, the “free associated state” of Puerto Rico, and the parliamentary democracies of various Anglophone territories all look widely diverse. On the other, there is a common history of plantation monocultures, forced migration, unfree labour, creolisation and transculturation which gives to the archipelago a certain unity in diversity. We will read these differences and similarities against the backdrop of the successive reconfigurations of the world-system which have buffeted the Caribbean since Columbus was first discovered on a beach in the Bahamas in 1492.

Module Outline
(The only texts students will need to obtain are marked * below)

Week 1: Introduction, The Caribbean, Modernity, and the World-System
CLR James, “Appendix” to The Black Jacobins
Édouard Glissant, “National Literatures” and “The Novel of the Americas” from Caribbean Discourse
Claudia Jones, “American imperialism and the British West Indies”
Selections from Derek Walcott, “The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory"
Selections from VS Naipaul, The Loss of El Dorado

Week 2: "The Irruption into Modernity"
José Martí, “Our America”
Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land*
Selection of short stories by Olga Yaatoff, Eric Walrond, Alfred Mendes

Week 3: Indentureship and Coolie Labour
Cristina García, Monkey Hunting*
Gaiutra Bahadur, Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture*

Week 4: The Promise and Pitfalls of National Independence
Sam Selvon, A Brighter Sun*
Merle Collins, Sections from the novel Angel

Week 5: "Broken Dreams, New Struggles"
Earl Lovelace, Salt*
Selections from Eric Williams, Inward Hunger: The Education of a Prime Minister
Selections from Maurice Bishop Speaks

Week 6: Literary Deliriums: Dependency, Alienation and Folklorisation
Patrick Chamoiseau, Solibo Magnifique*
Luis Rafael Sánchez, Macho Camacho's Beat*

Week 7: Neoliberalism: Sex and Tourism
Oonya Kempadoo, Tide Running*
Dany Laferrière, Selections from Heading South
Marion Bethel, Selections from Guanahani, My Love

Week 8: Cuba: Inconsolable Memories
Nancy Morejón, Looking Within: Selected Poems 1954-2000
Film Screening: Memories of Underdevelopment dir. Tomas Gutierrez Alea (1968)
Pedro Juan Gutiérrez, Dirty Havana Trilogy*

Week 9: "The Wounds of History: Writing the longue durée"
Kamau Brathwaite, Selections from X/Self
Dionne Brand, Inventory

Week 10: Caribbean Counterpoints: Mapping the World-System
Wilson Harris, Palace of the Peacock*
Junot Díaz, The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao*

Further prose and poetry that you might like to look at (these texts are not compulsory reading, but might easily have been set as primary reading in other years)

Week 2
C. L. R. James, Minty Alley
Leon Gontran Damas, Pigments
Phyllis Shand Allfrey, The Orchid House

Week 3
V. S. Naipual, A House for Mr. Biswas
Joel Benjamin (ed.), They Came in Ships: Anthology of Indo-Guyanese Prose and Poetry
Ved Prakash Vatuk, "Protest Songs of East Indians in British Guiana"

Week 4
Cola Debrot, My Black Sister
George Lamming, In the Casle of My Skin
Sam Selvon, Turn Again Tiger
Merle Hodge, Crick Crack Monkey

Week 5
Erna Brodber, Jane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home
Earl Lovelace, The Dragon Can't Dance
Simone Schwarz-Bart, The Bridge of Beyond

Week 6
Patrick Chamoiseau et al., Eloge de la Creolite
Edouard Glissant, Malemort
Franketienne, Les Affres d'un Défi
Pedro Juan Soto, Usmail

Week 7
Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place
Olive Senior, Gardening in the Tropics
Christian Campbell, Running the Dusk

Week 8
Nicholas Guillen, Yoruba from Cuba
Jose Lezama Lima, Paradiso
Leonardo Padura, The Havana Quartet

Week 9
Dionne Brand, At the Full and Change of the Moon
Pauline Melville, The Migration of Ghosts
Edouard Glissant, Tout Monde

Week 10
Mayra Montero, You, Darkness
Patrick Chamoiseau, Biblique des derniers gestes
Derek Walcott, Omeros

Further Reading
Amin, Samir. Capitalism in the Age of Globalization: The Management of Contemporary Society.
London: Zed Books, 1997.
Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute,
Benitez-Rojo, Antonio. The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective.
Durham, N.C.; London: Duke University Press, 1996.
Birbalsingh, Frank (ed). Frontiers of Caribbean Literature in English. London: Macmillan Caribbean,
Bolland, O. Nigel. (ed). The Birth of Caribbean Civilisation: A Century of Ideas about Culture and
Identity, Nation and Society. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 2004.
Boyce Davies, Carole and Elaine Savory Fido (eds). Out of the Kumbla: Caribbean Women and
Literature. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1990.
Brennan, Timothy. At Home in the World: Cosmopolitanism Now. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press, 1997.
Britton, Celia. Édouard Glissant and Postcolonial Theory: Strategies of Language and Resistance.
Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999.
——. The Sense of Community in French Caribbean Fiction. Liverpool University Press, 2008.
Brown, J. Dillon, Migrant Modernism: Postwar London and the West Indian Novel. University of
Virginia Press, 2013.
Bulmer-Thomas, Victor. The Economic History of the Caribbean Since the Napoleonic Wars. Cambridge University Press, 2012.
Castro, Fidel. “History Will Absolve Me”,
Cudjoe, Selwyn R. Resistance and Caribbean Literature. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1980.
Dalleo, Raphael. Caribbean Literature and the Public Sphere. University of Virginia Press, 2011.
Dash, Michael. The Other America: Caribbean Literature in a New World Context. London: University
of Virginia Press, 1998.
Denning, Michael. Culture in the Age of Three Worlds. London and New York: Verso, 2004.
Donnell, Alison. Twentieth-Century Caribbean Literature. Oxford: Routledge, 2006.
Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. London: Pluto Press, 1986.
Gallagher, Mary. Soundings in French Caribbean Writing Since 1950: The Shock of Space and Time.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Gikandi, Simon. Writing in Limbo: Modernism and Caribbean Literature. Ithaca, N.Y.; London: Cornell
University Press, 1992.
Glissant, Édouard. Caribbean Discourse: Selected Essays. Trans. J. Michael Dash. Charlottesville:
University Press of Virginia, 1989.
——. Poetics of Relation. Trans. Betsy Wing. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1997.
Gott, Richard. Cuba: A New History. Yale UP, 2005.
Henry, Paget. Caliban’s Reason. Routledge, 2000.
Hulme, Peter. Colonial Encounters: Europe and the Native Caribbean, 1492-1797. London: Methuen,
Jameson, Fredric. A Singular Modernity: Essay on the Ontology of the Present. London and New
York: Verso, 2002.
Juneja, Renu. Caribbean Transactions: West Indian Culture in Literature. London: Macmillan
Caribbean, 1996.
Kapcia, Antoni. Havana: The Making of Cuban Culture. Berg, 2005.
King, Bruce (ed). West Indian Literature. 2nd ed. London : Macmillan, 1995.
Lazarus, Neil (ed). The Cambridge Companion to Postcolonial Literary Studies. Cambridge:
Cambridge UP, 2004
——. The Postcolonial Unconscious. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2011.
Loomba, Ania et al. Postcolonial Studies and Beyond. Durham: Duke UP, 2005
Lovelace, Earl. Growing in the Dark: Selected Essays. Ed. Funso Aiyejina. San Juan, Trinidad and
Tobago: Lexicon, 2003.
Macey, David. Fanon: A Biography. Verso, 2012.
Niblett, Michael. The Caribbean Novel Since 1945. Mississippi: University of Mississippi Press, 2012.
Oxall, Ivar. Black Intellectuals and the Dilemmas of Race and Class in Trinidad. Schenkman, 1982.
Price, Richard. The Convict and the Colonel: A Story of Colonialism and Resistance in the Caribbean.
Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1998.
Puri, Shalini. Caribbean Postcolonial. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.
Richardson, Michael. Ed. Refusal of the Shadow: Surrealism and the Caribbean. London and New
York: Verso, 1996.
Rodney, Walter. A History of the Guyanese Working People, 1891-1905. London and Kingston:
Heinemann Educational Books, 1981.
Rosenberg, Leah. Nationalism and the Formation of Caribbean Literature. Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
Scott, Helen. Caribbean Women Writers and Globalization. Ashgate, 2006.
Serbin, Andrés. Sunset Over the Islands: The Caribbean in an Age of Global and Regional
Challenges. London and Basingstoke: Macmillan Education, 1998.
Sheller, Mimi. Consuming the Caribbean: From Arawaks to Zombies. London and New York:
Routledge, 2003.
Torres-Saillant, Silvio. Caribbean Poetics. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997
——, An Intellectual History of the Caribbean. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

Film Screenings
Dream to Change the World, dir. Horace Ove
Inward Hunger, Parts 1-3, dir. Mariel Brown
Moloch Tropical, dir. Raoul Peck
The Harder They Come, dir. Perry Henzell
Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Economy, Tèt Ansanm Productions
Life and Debt, dir. Stephanie Black
Soy Cuba, dir. Mikhail Kalatozov
Juan of the Dead, dir. Alejandro Brugués
The Price of Sugar, dir. Bill Haney
Che – Part One and Two, dir. Steven Soderbergh