Podcast: Latin Poetry in the Caribbean, with Dr John Gilmore
The role of Latin in Britain’s eighteenth-century Caribbean colonies was multifaceted. The ability to speak the language was a status symbol for the colonial elite, and Latin texts often served as attempted validations of the colonial project; for example, John Maynard wrote a lengthy Latin poem aiming to justify the slave trade in Barbados. But there was also the Jamaican poet Francis Williams, who achieved international fame as a writer of Latin verse and used his work to defend his right to be taken seriously as a Black poet. In this week's episodeLink opens in a new window, Dr John Gilmore of the University of Warwick speaks to Shivaike Shah about the light Francis Williams’s one surviving poem sheds on the lesser-known functions of Latin in the British colonies. He shares how Latin poetry became a conduit for arguments about the intellectual capacity of people of African descent and, by extension, about the illegitimacy of the slave trade.