English 203

Graduate Readings: Caribbean Literature and Culture

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2017 Ellis, Nadia
M 9-12 301 Wheeler

Book List

Brathwaite, Kamau: Rights of Passage (1973); Danticat, Edwidge: The Dew Breakers (2004); Díaz, Junot: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007); Kincaid, Jamaica: Annie John (1985); Lovelace, Earl: The Dragon Can't Dance (1979); McKay, Claude: Home to Harlem (1928); Rhys, Jean: Voyage in the Dark (1934); Salkey, Andrew: Escape to an Autumn Pavement (1960); Wekker, Gloria: The Politics of Passion (2005)

Other Readings and Media

Highly recommended: Selvon, Sam: The Lonely Londoners (1956); Kincaid, Jamaica: A Small Place (1988) 

Film: Life and Debt (2001)

Course Reader with works by CLR James, Derek Walcott, Dennis Scott, Gordon Rohlehr, Michel-Rolph Trouillot, M. Jacqui Alexander, Michelle Stephens, Brent Hayes Edwards, Patricia Saunders, Deborah Thomas, Omise'eke Natasha Tinsley, and others, available at Copy Central, Bancroft Avenue.

**Please consult the bCourses website before purchasing books.


“and either I’m nobody, or I’m a nation.” -Derek Walcott

Walcott’s mongrel regionalism is an apt invitation to consider a field of cultures whose richness comes, at least in part, from its provoking tendency toward paradox. Caribbean literature poses enormous challenges to the discipline--challenges of form (traditions are inherited, then broken); of literary history (memory, tradition, and rumor face off against historiography); of genre (artists extravagantly ignore boundaries between literature, music, performance, and theory); and of language (at least four European languages are spoken, and there are several more Creole languages). This course will evidence all these challenges, moving through a wide array of literature and cultural critique in order to establish the grounds of advanced research into Caribbean literary studies. We’ll specify and explore major themes and debates in the field and think through the often baffling dialectic between hegemony and counter-hegemony in national cultures, whereby popular forms at once displace and secure regressive versions of subjecthood. We’ll think, then, alongside extraordinary artists and critics, about the Caribbean tradition’s quicksilver threat and promise; its development on a knife’s edge “either…or” (which is, as Walcott shows, also always “and”).

The course is designed to provide a range of readings in English across the region; to establish the contours and discourse of a field; and to stage the possibilities for asking new questions. Instead of a single final research paper there will be shorter pieces due throughout the semester.

The texts for this course will be available at University Press Books, on Bancroft Way.  Please note the changes in the texts (as of August 10).

This course satisfies the Group 5 (20th Century) requirement.

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