LIT 4188/Section 4020 Emancipation to Nation: The Emergence of Caribbean Literature in English

Leah Rosenberg
The class meets Tuesdays in period 4 (10:40-11:30 a.m.), Thursday periods 4 &5 (10:40-12:35) in Matherly 117 Office hours: Wednesday 1:30-4:30(by appointment) Office: 4346 Turlington hall / Email: / phone: 294 2848 This course examines Caribbean literature written in English in the Victorian and Modernist periods, from the 1830s to the 1950s. This period saw the end of slavery (1834-38), the introduction (in 1845) and abolition (in 1917) of indentured labor (largely from India
more » ... largely from India and China) as well as the rise U.S. military and economic power. This was, of course, the period in which the majority of people in the Anglophone Caribbean gained political rights and developed a sense of having a national and regional identity separate from Britain. It was the period in which Anglophone Caribbean nationalist movements emerged and as well as movements to establish national culture, literature in particular. The goal of the course is to understand how and why Caribbean people began to write literature and what relationship this literature had to these enormous political, social, and economic transformations. It should provide an interesting comparison to students of U.S. literature because the United States is also a post-slavery and post plantation society and to students of British literature because Anglophone Caribbean writers were particularly engaged with the British literary tradition as the British literary canon served an important role in colonialism. The course's focus on the pre-1950 period reflects the current movement within Caribbean literary studies to expand the traditional curriculum which until recently focused almost exclusively on post-1950 literature. Considering the formal techniques, historical context, and political significance of literature, it explores how Anglophone Caribbean writers appropriated, transformed, and debated British and European aesthetics, focusing on the following interrelated themes: Aesthetics and tradition: As the literature of people colonized by Britain and schooled in British colonial schools, Caribbean literature has a complex and important relationship to the British literary tradition. Caribbean writers had to establish their difference from this tradition, in order to claim a legitimate literary tradition for the Caribbean. They also had to be accepted by the British publishing industry and public, in order to be successful. Their relationship to the literature of the United States and the rest of the Americas is also significant. Form has taken on great political significance because literature that appeared to resemble British or U.S. literature too closely was not considered to be distinctly or authentically Caribbean, and because having a distinctly Caribbean and yet internationally recognized literature was seen a critical to meriting nationhood. The