Introduction to Caribbean Storytelling
Imbuing new interest in Caribbean literature and storytelling - travelling across the Caribbean region and its distinctive and complex geographic area can all be done between the pages of a West Indian novel. With introductions to the fabulous writers and works of the region, we move around geographically and historically through an introductory curation of Caribbean works each week packaging an aesthetic mapping of the region’s past, present and future! Digital packages of pdfs of material, links, art and videos will be delivered weekly!
Week 1 - Intro. to the Course - Wi Sweet like Mango!
An introductory class to the Caribbean region through literature, exploring how national literatures allowed us to write ourselves into existence. Our starting point is Jamaica because I'm Jamaican! And introducing the intriscity of time to Caribbean works we explore the iconic fruit of the mango through song, poetry and theory. Starting with vividly coloured poetry from the likes of Lorna Godison, Olive Senior and Ms. Lou, pairing this literary taste of Jamaica with samples of theoretical essays that deepen our understanding of how Caribbean literature, through its own methodological innovations transforms the legacy of colonial literature from just literary pieces to the careful excavation of the fragmented histories of the diaspora, to suit her own voice. We will also be listening to the melodic voices of the past and present through the songs “Mango Time” and “Mango”. Leading ino discussion of how the words of marginalized communities always carry the weight of histories we may or may not know and decolonizing how we approach the literature of these spaces and what it took for these spaces to reach where they are today.
Week 2 - Capture Lan’ and Literature
This week we will be focusing on what is now known as the beginning of the West Indies, addressing Columbus' part in the “beginning” of the region but also more fully examining his role in its ending. Engaging these thoughts on the island of Hispaniola, modern-day divided Haiti and Dom. Rep, as we travel from this first moment and discuss how literature becomes a political act of resistance when the pages of history books are not a safe space to find yourself and playing with the concepts of “fragmentation” and introducing “creolization” in how we discuss the dividing of the Caribbean the arrival of colonialism dividing land, language, history.
Week 3 - A different kind of Sea Shanty
Continuing from last week's discussion on land and language, we further stretch into the language of the Caribbean Sea, as Brathwaite describes as an entire submerged unification of the Caribbean, the connecting thread in the notion of the "tidalectics" of roots and routes, after Barbadian poet and culturalist Edward Kamau Brathwaite, who defines this feature as a drawing upon "the movement of the water backwards and forwards as a kind of cyclic motion, rather than linear". While acknowledging the differences between islanders of different regions and countries, there is an affinity with the tracing of long lineages of movement, bound together by the sea and the divine imagining of the ocean as the freeing of the Caribbean.
Week 4 - Wi likkle but wi tallawah: Discussing A Small Place
Having explored the land, the shimmering history of the seas, coming to the Caribbean is an exciting idea, but what does tourism mean to a place scarred by colonialism? How does the tourist industry extend these historical connotations to present day realties?
Discussing Jamaica Kincaid's “A Small Place” this week will present the idea that the Caribbean is a place where time does not have a stopping point, that history doesn't have to repeat itself because it is always speaking presently.
Week 5 – Haunted Tropics
Now that we’ve explored the fruits of Caribbean literature, the land and the sea paying care to the peoples that have populated the land is due. The Caribbean is haunted by many, and even haunts outside these waters. The diasporic connections of lands, bodies and seas does not stop in death and these connections live on echoing the bones of Caribbean Literatures. An almost alternative consciousness, or “third sight that connects Caribbean diasporic writers together the spirit of of post-colonial struggle manifesting in shared themes, of what hides between the land and the sea.
- Samantha Perritt