ENG253H1F - L5101

Caribbean Literature


Wednesday 6 pm - 9 pm

Instructor Information

R. Soni

E-mail: raji.soni@utoronto.ca

Course Description

Our study of Caribbean literature will traverse multimedia journalism, essays, poetry, drama, interviews, short fiction,historical writing, novels, and documentary cinema from Martinique, Barbados,Saint Lucia, Jamaica, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago. Literary form, thematiccontent, and historical context will matter equally for us. We will bookend ourstudies with two related subjects – climate emergencies and the history of economic“structural adjustment” – that will loom large, weighing on our shoulders andhaunting us as we read, even if the texts we’re studying do not (or could notyet) address them. Within these bookends, our guiding themes will be generous:(1) trials and tribulations of decolonization, (2) négritude inliterature and critiques of it from within the movement, (3) resistances to andcomplicities with what one verily opposes, (4) writing about nature in thetropics, (5) North Atlantic power vis-à-vis the Greater Caribbean, (6)unflinching efforts to imagine the lived experiences of slavery, revolt, andrevolution in the Caribbean world, (7) aesthetics, ethics, and politics ofrepresenting violence, (8) thinking through diasporas, and (9) genders, sexes,and sexualities – straight to queer – within Caribbean horizons. “Islandcivilizations have so evolved that they then acquire a continental dimension,”Edouard Glissant wrote. And so, from Sept. to Dec., the dimensions of the Caribbean will be our continent. 

Required Readings

(tentative until syllabus is posted to Quercus)

  • Articles on climate emergencies in the Caribbean
  • Essays by Fanon and Glissant
  • Selected poems by Brathwaite
  • Walcott’s Dream on Monkey Mountain and selected poems;
  • Selected poems and short fiction by Senior
  • Excerpts from C.L.R. James’ The Black Jacobins
  • Danticat’s The Dew Breaker
  • Excerpts from Hall’s Familiar Stranger
  • Marlon James’ The Book of Night Women
  • Brand’s Atthe Full and Change of the Moon and selected poems
  • Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night
  • Life & Debt, dir. Black. 

First Three Authors/Texts

  • Articles on climate emergencies
  • Fanon
  • Glissant
  • Brathwaite

Methods of Evaluation

  • (Tentative until syllabus is posted to Quercus) closereading test or close reading assignment (TBD)
  • Collaborative perspectivesassignment (group-based exercise that involves sharing your insights with theclass)
  • Midterm test
  • Final project
  • Final exam