603-102-MQ, Caribbean Literature
“We have learnt their alphabet of alkali and aloe, on seeds of islands dispersed by the winds. We have washed out with salt the sweet, faded savour of rivers, and in the honeycombs of skull the bees built a new song.” -Derek Walcott, “The Exodus” In this course, we will be exploring the works of various Caribbean writers and performers, the literary productions that create the genre of Caribbean literature. Central themes of the genre include the following: colonization through the imposition of language; oral vs. written culture; post-colonialism and the difficulty of writing from the margins; “constructed” vs. “essential” notions of identity as they emerge through the images and ideas of Caribbean artists. To see Caribbean literature as a strictly textual genre prevents readers from seeing the crucial relation of this literary project to still-vibrant oral cultures. As a result, the material in this class, including music, dub poetry, film, and literature, will not be restrained by the confines of the written word. Our exploration of Caribbean literature will force each of us to think about ourselves and our own identities as we study the ways in which each author or performer attempts to find a voice to articulate their own experience.