SoSe 13: S-Introduction to Cultural Studies II: Writing the Caribbean: Roots, Routes, Home and Exile in Caribbean Short Fiction
The islands of the Caribbean have a complex history of suppression, settlement, and migration. They were some of Europe's first colonies in the New World and became centres of European trade. The ... read more
The islands of the Caribbean have a complex history of suppression, settlement, and migration. They were some of Europe's first colonies in the New World and became centres of European trade. The indigenous population was joined by millions of slaves brought over from Africa to work on the Caribbean plantations and later, after the official abolition of slavery in 1834, by thousands of indentured workers from India. In the 1950s and 1960s, when the former British colonies in the Caribbean gradually gained their independence, a generation of Caribbean writers emerged on the literary scene, many of whom "set out to combat colonialism through the written word," as Celeste A. Wheat puts it.
In this course we will read a broad range of short fiction by Anglophone Caribbean writers, such as Edward Kamau Brathwaite, V.S. Naipaul or Jean Rhys, to mention just some of the more widely known authors. The stories raise questions concerning the experience of colonialism and exile, about representation, narrative identity, authority, language and power, and about the intersection of class, race and gender. One recurring question will be how the writers use and appropriate English, formerly the language of the coloniser, for their own purposes. It will therefore also be interesting to consider how these texts, whose styles range from traditional realist to radically experimental, relate to Western European literary traditions.
The seminar aims to provide both an introduction to key concepts in Postcolonial Studies, as well as a general introduction to the socio-historical context of English Caribbean literature. Seminar discussion will be based on student presentations in groups and on prior close reading of the texts. Assessment will be on the basis of active participation in class (including presentations and a short written assignment) and the submission of the usual essay. The course will be taught in English (level C1).