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EN2F7/EN3F7 Literature and Empire: Britain and the Caribbean to c. 1900

This module is a Pathway Approved Option for the World Pathway and a Distributional Requirement for all other Pathways.

Course convenor: Dr John T. Gilmore

2020/2021

Outline

This course examines the cultural significance of the Caribbean to Britain during the period when the “sugar colonies” enjoyed their greatest economic importance, as well as during their decline in the later nineteenth century, from the "rise of the planter class", the white, land-owning oligarchy which dominated the colonies during slavery and its aftermath, to the introduction of Asian indentured labour and the beginnings of Afro-Caribbean nationalism. Each week’s seminar will be based around a single text, or small group of shorter texts. Texts by both Caribbean and British authors, ranging from the mid-17th century to the late 19th century, will be used to approach themes such as those of the “noble savage,” the “West-India Georgic,” and the ideological battle over slavery, and to show how the cultural traffic between the imperial power and the colonies was far from being only in one direction. Most works are in English (while a few short works in Latin will also be discussed, English translations will be provided). A wide range of genres is included – travel narratives and memoirs, sermons, poetry, plays, history and novels – and our texts are definitely not all by dead white males.

Teaching and Assessment

This module is taught in weekly one-and-a-half-hour seminars - there are no lectures. Students will be expected to give short presentations in seminars, and to contribute regularly to seminar discussions. The module is 100% assessed. Students will be required to submit assignments as follows:

Intermediate Year: 1 x presentation during seminar (20%),1 x 2000 word close reading exercise - analysis of one of the primary texts listed for the module (30%),1 x 3000 word essay on a topic to be agreed with the module convenor to include use of a range of appropriate secondary material (50%)

Final Year: 1 x presentation during seminar (20%),1 x 2000 word essay (30%) on a topic to be agreed with the module convenor,1 x 4000 word essay on a topic to be agreed with the module convenor (50%).

Reading List and Weekly Programme, 2020-2021

N.B. This reading list has been revised for the current year with online teaching in mind. Most texts for study are available in electronic format, or will be supplied. A small number of texts are recommended for purchase – these are listed separately below, as well as in their places in the Week by Week Outline.

Recommended for purchase:

Behn, Aphra, Oroonoko, ed. Janet Todd (Penguin Classics, 2003) (first pub. 1688). ISBN 978-0140439885.

Felsenstein, Frank, ed., English Trader, Indian Maid: Representing Gender, Race and Slavery in the New World – An Inkle and Yarico Reader (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999). ISBN 978-0801861062.

Ligon, Richard, A True & Exact History of the Island of Barbados, ed. Karen Ordahl Kupperman (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2011) (first pub. 1657). ISBN 978-1603846202.

Prince, Mary, The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave, ed. Sara Salih (Penguin Classics, 2000). ISBN 978-0140437492.

Seacole, Mary, The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands, ed. Sara Salih (Penguin Classics, 2005). ISBN 978-0140439021.

Week by Week Outline

Term 1

Week 1

Introduction to Britain’s former Caribbean colonies and their significance. We will look at a group of short texts, which will be supplied as part of an in-class exercise. No advance reading is required.

Week 2

Ligon, Richard, A True & Exact History of the Island of Barbados, ed. Karen Ordahl Kupperman (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2011) (first pub. 1657). ISBN 978-1603846202.

Week 3

Behn, Aphra, Oroonoko, ed. Janet Todd (Penguin Classics, 2003) (first pub. 1688). ISBN 978-0140439885.

Week 4

Poems by Christopher Codrington (1668-1710), and poems by two other early Barbadian writers, John Alleyn (or Alleyne) and John Maynard, both published in 1713.

For Codrington's poems, see here.

For the text and translation of Alleyn's poem, see here.

For the text and translation of Maynard's poem, see Gilmore, John T., “ ‘Sub herili venditur Hasta’: An early eighteenth-century justification of the Slave Trade by a colonial poet”, in Yasmin Haskell and Juanita Feros Ruys, ed., Latinity and Alterity in the Early Modern Period, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, Volume 360 (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2010), pp. 221-239. Copy available here.

Week 5

Long, Edward, The History of Jamaica (3 vols., London : printed for T. Lowndes, 1774). (Digital copy available on the ECCO database).

N.B. selections only: Book II, Chapter XIII, "Of the Inhabitants"; Book III, Chapters I-III, "Negroes". These can be found in Volume II, pp. 260-475.

Week 6 – Reading Week, no seminar

Week 7

Long, History of Jamaica, Book III, Chapter IV, "Francis Williams", Volume II, pp. 475-485. Francis Williams, Latin poem addressed to Governor Haldane, 1759.

Long prints the Latin text of the poem by Francis Williams, but the translation which Long gives is more than a little tendentious -- please compare it with this more literal prose version by Gilmore: here

Week 8

James Grainger’s The Sugar-Cane: A Poem (1764), Books I and II.

The 1764 edition is available on ECCO. The complete text with full annotation is also available in Gilmore, John [T.], The Poetics of Empire: A Study of James Grainger’s The Sugar Cane (London: The Athlone Press, 2000) – an e-book of this is available via the Library catalogue.

Week 9

James Grainger’s The Sugar-Cane: A Poem (1764), Books III and IV.

Week 10

The Inkle and Yarico theme, Part I.

Shorter texts from Felsenstein, Frank, ed., English Trader, Indian Maid: Representing Gender, Race and Slavery in the New World – An Inkle and Yarico Reader (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999).

Term 2

Week 1

[Richard Cumberland], The West Indian: A Comedy. As it is performed at the Theatre Royal in Drury-Lane. By the author of The Brothers. (London: W. Griffin, 1771).

(Digital copy available on the ECCO database).

Week 2

The Inkle and Yarico theme, Part II.

George Colman, the Younger, Inkle and Yarico: An Opera (1787).

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

Week 3

Equiano, Olaudah, The interesting narrative and other writings, ed. Vincent Carretta. rev. ed. (New York: Penguin Books, 2003).

E-book available via Library catalogue.

Week 4

Prince, Mary, The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave (Penguin Classics ed., 2000; ed. Sara Salih).

Week 5

William Marshall Harte’s Lectures on the Gospel of St Matthew (1824).

The complete text available on Google Books, but we will be focusing on these selections: here

Week 6 – Reading Week, no seminar

Week 7

Matthew James Chapman, Barbadoes, and other Poems (1833). (Complete text available on Google Books.)

Week 8

Seacole, Mary, The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands, ed. Sara Salih (Penguin Classics, 2005).

Week 9

Froude, James Anthony, The English in the West Indies: Or, The bow of Ulysses (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1888).

E-book available via Library catalogue.

Week 10

Thomas, J. J. (John Jacob), Froudacity: West Indian fables by James Anthony Froude explained by J.J. Thomas (first published 1889). Text of original edition available online in Digital Library of the Caribbean, or here