While the area that we refer to as the Caribbean is a place of great diversity in terms of ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic diversity, the theme of home as a vexed notion recurs resonantly in its contemporary literature. For the children of Caribbean emigrants in the literature, home is the embodiment of a nostalgia they experience through parents, for a place they’ve never been. For others, it is a landscape of racial and social marginality, at a frustrating remove from the cosmopolitan colonial center. Equally as fraught is the new home represented by the oft-dreamed about streets of New York and London, places where the Caribbean emigrant must navigate new humiliations while confronting the death of dreams about an inclusive and prosperous America, as well as the betrayal of false promises extended to the non-white colonial British subject.
Exile, immigration, colonial geography and the elusive concept of home are the themes at the center of this study of Caribbean novels and prose. We will read a mix of contemporary and classic fiction and nonfiction by 20th and 21st-century Caribbean, Caribbean American and British Caribbean authors. We will also consider representations of national, racial, religious, gender identity and sexuality. Attentive to the creation of a postcolonial aesthetic in these diverse texts, we will investigate how a Caribbean subjectivity is expressed through linguistic and genre choices.
Brown Girl, Brownstones, Paule Marshall
A Small Place, Jamaica Kincaid
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, Audre Lorde
The Dewbreaker, Edwidge Danticat
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz
The Atlantic Sound, Caryl Phillips
The Enigma of Arrival, VS Naipaul
Small Island, Andrea Levy
The Lonely Londoners, Samuel Selvon
Course Requirements: This course requires several informal response papers as well as three formal essays on the order of 5pp. There will also be a midterm exam.