Introduction to Caribbean Literature 595: 270 Fall 2013 M/Th 10: 20-11: 40 Lucy Stone Hall, LIV professor

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Introduction to Caribbean Literature


Fall 2013 * M/Th * 10:20-11:40 * Lucy Stone Hall, LIV
Professor: Camilla Stevens

Office Hours: Mondays 2:00-3:00 and Thursdays 9:00-10:00 in A257 Lucy Stone Hall


Department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies:

Department Learning Goals:

Course Description:

The history, culture, and geography of the Caribbean have made it a distinctive and complex world area: the experiences of colonialism, slavery, and indentured servitude; the region’s multiplicity of races, cultures, and languages; the insular and maritime condition of its geography; and its proximity to the United States have shaped the region’s literary, cultural, and artistic production. The objective of this class is to become acquainted with major authors, themes, and literary movements that have emerged in the Caribbean. The course incorporates a range of media and employs an interdisciplinary perspective in exploring Caribbean prose, poetry, and drama. Some of the topics that will organize our discussions include: empire, revolution, sugar and labor, decolonization, storytelling and the oral tradition, re-visioning European traditions, ritual and carnival, transnationalism, diaspora, and exile, and constructions of race, class, gender, and sexuality.

Core Curriculum Goals: Areas of Inquiry, Arts and Humanities (AH)

O: Examine critically philosophical and other theoretical issues concerning the nature of reality, human experience, knowledge, value, and/or cultural production.

P: Analyze arts and/or literatures in themselves and in relation to specific histories, values, languages, cultures, and technologies.

Course Learning Goals:

Upon completion of the course, students will demonstrate:

  • knowledge of major authors, themes and movements in Caribbean literature;

  • knowledge of the major events, processes and intellectual debates that have shaped Caribbean history and culture;

  • strategies of interpretation, including an ability to use critical and theoretical terms, concepts, and methods in relation to a variety of textual forms and other media;

  • the ability to formulate persuasive written and oral arguments.


Texts will be available at Rutgers Barnes and Noble and will be listed here with ISBN numbers; some will be available as PDF readings on course Sakai site


Class Grade: 20%

(attendance, daily participation, pop quizzes)

Written Assignments: 30%

(3 response papers; weekly posts; annotated bibliography)

2 Exams: 40%

In-class essay: 10%
92-100 A; 87-91 B+; 81-86 B; 77-80 C+; 70-76 C; 60-69 D; 0-59 F
Academic Integrity:

Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Rutgers University defines plagiarism as:

“the representation of the words or ideas of another as one’s own in any academic exercise. To avoid plagiarism, every direct quotation must be identified by quotation marks or by appropriate indentation and must be promptly cited in the text or in a footnote.”*
It is your responsibility to recognize the contributions of others to your work, whether you paraphrase ideas from other sources or directly quote them. Plagiarism from the Internet is easily recognized by the professor. For a guide on how to cite secondary sources in your reports and papers, please consult the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.
*Please see the complete university policy:

9.4 Introduction
9.9 Selections from The Story of the Caribbean People by James Ferguson (historical context)

9.12 Selections from The Love-Axe/I: Developing a Caribbean Aesthetic by Braithwaite/Essay and Poems by Derek Walcott or “We Must Learn to Sit Down Together and Discuss a Little Culture” by Sylvia Wynter

9.16 Kingdom of this World, Alejo Carpentier (Cuba)

9.19 Kingdom of this World, Alejo Carpentier

9.23 Biography of a Runaway Slave, Miguel Barnet (Cuba)

9.26 Biography of a Runaway Slave/The Last Supper (dir. Tomás Gutiérrez Alea)

9.30 The Haitain Trilogy, Derek Walcott (St. Lucia)

10.3 The Haitian Trilogy, Derek Walcott or Tragedy of King Christophe by Aimé Césaire (Martinique)

10.7 Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys (Dominica)

10.10 Wide Sargasso Sea

10.14 The Arrivants, Kamau Braithwaite (Barbados)

10.17 Exam

10.21 The Last English Plantation Jan Lo Shinbourne (Guyana) or Abeng by Michelle Cliff (Jamaica)

10.24 The Last English Plantation

10.28 Exile According to Julia Gisele Pineau (Guadeloupe)

10.31 Exile According to Julia

11.4 Selection of Short Stories, including “The Baker’s Story” by V.S. Naipaul (Trinidad and Tobago)

11.7 Short Stories

11.11 The Farming of Bones, Edwidge Danticat (US-Haiti)

11.14 The Farming of Bones, Edwidge Danticat

11.18 The Farming of Bones, Di Perejil (dir. Irene Rial Bou)

11.21 Old Story Time, Trevor Rhone, (Jamaica)

11.25 Exam


12.2 Contemporary short stories by authors from the Hispanic Caribbean (Junot Díaz, Rosario Ferré, Mayra Santos Febres, Ana Lydia Vega, José Antonio Aponte)

12.6 Contemporary short stories by authors from the Hispanic Caribbean

12.9 In-class essay
TBD: supplementary essays on periodization and key topics in Caribbean Literary Studies

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