LIT 4192/Section 9116 Anglophone Caribbean Literature: Its History & Debates

Instructor: Leah Rosenberg
W 6-8 ( 12:50 -3:50 pm) TUR 2336 Office:4363 Turlington Hall
Office Hours: Monday 9-11; Tuesday 10-12
Office phone: 392 6650 ext. 238
class website:


In The Pleasures of Exile, his 1960 analysis of anglophone Caribbean culture, George Lamming asserted that the emergence of “a dozen or so novelists in the British Caribbean... between 1948 and 1958” was one of the three most important historical developments in the region, the other two being “the discovery” of the Americas and the abolition of slavery and the subsequent importation of indentured labor. These new writers, he asserted, invented anglophone Caribbean literature “without any previous native tradition to draw on.” This is a startling claim given the fact that short stories, novels, and poetry written by anglophone Caribbeans were published by local newspapers and by metropolitan presses since the 19th century. The goal of this course is to investigate canon formation in the anglophone Caribbean and in so doing to place Lamming’s claims in the context of a history of debates over the definition and purpose of literature in the Caribbean. In addition to these debates, we will examine a broad variety of canonical and non-canonical literary texts. Authors will likely include: George Lamming, Jean Rhys,
Sam Selvon, and Edwidge Danticat.

Goals and Objectives:

1.    To provide a survey of the history of anglophone Caribbean literature.
2.    To address the theoretical question of how literary canons are formed with reference to the Anglophone Caribbean and English literary canons.  Why are specific texts included while other excluded from scholarship and teaching?  What is the definition and purpose of literary texts?
3.    To hone writing skills in the analyzing literature and critical arguments.


Please check your ufl email daily as you will receive updates on assignments and the schedule via email. Updates will also be posted on the class website accessible through my website: .  Please check the website for current assignments and schedule.  The weekly response questions will be posted by Friday afternoon of each week.  Please use the subject heading LIT4192 when you turn in assignments.


(1) Attendance,  Participation, and Conferences (20%)

More than two absences will lower your grade. Two latenesses=one absence. Missing more than six fifty-minute periods (2 weeks) will result in failure in the course.  If you are late, come up after class and inform me, so that I can add you to the attendance for the day. If you miss class you are responsible for the material covered in class and for knowing the assignment for the next class. You may want to get the email or phone number of other class members to contact if you miss class.
 All students need to participate in class discussion. Read the material, think about it, take notes and be ready to discuss it. This means that you should always consider the response questions even if you are not required to write an response. If you are very quiet, think about how to contribute more regularly. If you talk a great deal, focus on learning how to encourage other students to participate. If you have excellent attendance but do not speak, your participation will be grade: C.
 Meet with me at least once this semester to discuss your work and the class. I recommend coming to discuss both of your papers before you write or after you’ve written the first draft.  My office hours are Mondays 9-11 and Tuesday 10-12.

(2) 8  Response papers  (40% of the course grade)

What is a response paper?
These are to be responses of 1-2 pages.  I will provide a number of questions for response papers.  These topics will be provided on the class website by Friday afternoon of each week. You may also choose a topic of your own. If you choose this option, check with me by Monday of that week for approval.  They are informal in the sense that they are a place to experiment with your ideas without being penalized.  However,  response papers  require serious thought and must be written in clear and coherent academic prose in standard format for English essays (i.e. with one-inch margins, 12 point Times Roman font or its equivalent; and page numbers).
    The purpose of response papers:
a) To ensure that students complete the reading and think about it.
b) To communicate your ideas to me, so that I can organize the class around your insights and interests.
c) To hone skills in analyzing literature and critical arguments.
    Who is to write papers for which dates?
Each week, either half the class or the full class will write a response.   Check on the syllabus to see if the week is marked A-H which means you are to write a response if your last name begins with the letters A through H.  If the week is marked I-Z, then students will last names between I-Z are to write a response.

    How and when to turn in the response paper:
These assignments are due via email( by Tuesday 9 am.  It is very important that the subject line begin with LIT4192.

    How response papers graded:
I will assign each response paper a number between 1-4 with 4 being the highest grade and the lowest.  I will use the same criteria as for formal essays (see below) but will give ample leeway for experimenting with particular readings and theoretical concepts.  Papers which do not show adequate thought and other forms of preparation will receive no credit and will need to be revised and resubmitted.

Papers (40%)

Paper #1 (10 % of the class grade) 5-6 pages due 10/11 (the day before class meets!)  Suggestions for Topics
In this paper  you will chose one or two texts  we’ve read and consider if and how they conform to or transgress dominant conceptions of the anglophone Caribbean literary Canon. For instance, the representation of folk culture and the working class has been considered a defining characteristic of Caribbean literature.  You might choose to evaluate the representation of folk literature in one or two texts we've read. This paper might also evaluate the relevance of the theoretical essays on anglophone Caribbean literary or the literary tradition in relation to the literary texts we’ve read.  Further details to follow (9/21). Please send via email to with the subject heading LIT4192

Paper #2   10 pages (30 % -  2 drafts)
This essay assignment asks you to take stock of what you have learned about Caribbean literature and literary studies more generally.  One possibility is for you to
choose one work and compare it with others we've read as a means of evaluating its place in the tradition we have studied in the class. Specific questions to be distributed by 1 November.
First draft due 23 November.
Final drafts due 9 December.

Grading Criteria for Essays (see handout or link)

You must complete all the work for this class.  The Instructor reserves the right to change assignments and schedule, so please check the syllabus on-line for updates.

Books you need to buy at Goerings (1717 NW 1 Ave, 377 3707):

Lamming, George. In the Castle of My Skin
Rhys, Jean. Voyage in the Dark.
Cliff, Michelle. Abeng
Danticat, Edwige. The Farming of Bones
Maxwell, Philip. Emmanuel Appadocca.
Selvon, Sam.  The Lonely Londoners.

Other readings are available on E-Reserve:

        “James Belmont Condemns Local Magazine.”  The Trinidad Guardian. 22 December 1929: p.1.

         Eagleton, Terry. "The Rise of English." Literary Theory: An Introduction. 2nd ed. Minneapolis: U of Minn. P, 1996. 17-53.

        Gomes, Albert. "Local Fiction" The Beacon 1:10(Jan-Feb., 1932): 1-2. (Reprinted in  From Trinidad ed. Reinhard Sander.  New York:Africana Publishing,                     1978: 26-28.

         Guillory, John. "Canon." Critical Terms for Literary Study. 2 ed.  Eds. Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin.  Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1995:                               233-249.

         Hulme, Peter. "The Place of Wide Sargasso Sea." Wasafiri 20 (1994):5-11.

         James, C.L.R. "Triumph." The C.L.R. James Reader. Ed. Anna Grimshaw. London: Blackwell, 1992: 29-40. (Originally published in Trinidad December                     1929).
         Lorde, Audre. "The Uses of the Erotic." in Sister Outsider. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press, 1984: 53-59.

         Labour Leader Debate over CLR James's short story "Triumph"
         Lamming, George. "Occasion for Speaking." Pleasures of Exile (1960). Ann Arbor: Umich Press, 1992: 23-50.

         Mendes, Alfred "A Commentary."( Originally printed in Trinidad Easter 1930).Reprinted in From Trinidad ed. Reinhard Sander. New York:Africana                          Publishing, 1978: 21-26.

         Rhys, Jean."Voyage in the Dark Part IV." The Gender of Modernism. Ed. Bonnie Kime Scott. Bloomington: U of Indiana P, 1990: 381-389.
         Selvon, Sam. "The Calysonian" West Indian Short Stories ed. Andrew Salkey. London: Faber and Faber, 1960: 106-117.

         Walcott, Derek. "Spoiler's Return" (1982) Voiceprint ed. Stewart Brown et al. Essex UK: Longman 1989: 163-168.

         “Explanatory Notes” on Spoiler's Return from The Penguin Book of Caribbean Verse in English.  London: Penguin, 1986: 416-417.

        The Caribbean Writers Summer Institute Archives are available at:

University of Florida Honesty Policy Regarding Cheating and Use of Copyrighted Materials

Academic Honesty: As a result of completing the registration form at the University of Florida, every student has signed the following statement: "I understand that the University of Florida expects its students to be honest in all their academic work. I agree to adhere to this
commitment to academic honesty and understand that my failure to comply with this commitment may result in disciplinary action up to and including expulsion from the University."

Copyrighted Materials and Software Use: All students are required and expected to obey the laws and legal agreements governing copyrighted material and software use. Failure to do so can lead to monetary damages and/or criminal penalties for the individual violator. Because such violations are also against University policies and rules, disciplinary action will be taken as appropriate.

Policy Related to Make-Up Exams or Other Work- All papers and exams must be turned in on time. No late work will be accepted unless the student has asked for and been granted an extension at least 24 hours in advance of the deadline.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities - Students requesting special accommodations must first register with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the Instructor
when requesting accommodation.

Class Demeanor Expected by Instructor Students must be respectful of everyone in the class.

University Counseling Services- Resources are available on-campus for students having personal problems or lacking clear career and academic goals which interfere with their academic performance. These resources include:

   1.University Counseling Center, 301 Peabody Hall, 392-1575, personal and career counseling;

   2.Student Mental Health, Student Health Care Center, 392-1171, personal counseling;

   3.Sexual Assault Recovery Services (SARS), Student Health Care Center, 392-1161, sexual counseling

   4.Career Resource Center, Reitz Union, 392-1601, career development assistance and counseling.

CLASS SCHEDULE (subject to change)

8/24 Week 1   Introduction to Caribbean Literature and History

Historical Introduction to Trinidad and  Michel Maxwell Philip’s  Emmanuel Appadocca

Map with languages (from Ferguson, James. A Traveller's History of the Caribbean. Northampton, MA: Interlink Publishing, 1999:304)
Map including Latin American Mainland and dates of Independence (from Randall, Stephen J. and Graeme S. Mount. The Caribbean Basin: an International History.  New York: Routledge, 1998:9)

8/31 Week 2   The Pre-history of Anglophone Caribbean Literature: The 19th Century

          Response Questions for Week Two
          Reading:   Maxwell Philip, Michel. Emmanuel Appadocca (1854) -- at least through chapter XXI
          Introduction to “The Occasion for Speaking.”       
          Responses: Students with last names A-H inclusive.

9/7   Week 3     The Place of  Nineteenth-Century Literature

         Response Questions for Week Three
        Emmanuel Appadocca continued
        Lamming, George.  “The Occasion for Speaking.” ERES                
        Responses: Students with last names I-Z (inclusive)

9/14 Week 4    The history of English literary studies and the formation of the English Canon in the United States            

            Response Questions for Week Four
            Guillory, John.  “Canon.”  ERES
             Eagleton, Terry. “The Rise of English.”  ERES
        Responses: Everyone                
        Introductory lecture on the history of carnival and calypso

    9/21 Week 5    The Folk as the Basis of National Literature: The case of Trinidad Carnival and Calypso        

          Response Questions for Week Five

          Readings:  Fiction
        * James, C.L.R.  “Triumph.” ERES  (1929  Yard fiction)
        * Selvon, Sam. “The Calypsonian” ERES (1950s  Lamming's Generation)
        * Walcott, Derek. “Spoiler’s Return.” ERES (1982  criticism of postcolonial Trinidad)
         Readings: Contemporary commentary
        Gomes, Albert.  “Local Fiction.”  ERES
        Mendes, Alfred.  “Commentary.”  ERES – recommended
        “James Belmont Condemns Local Fiction.”
        Labour Leader Debate over CLR James's short story "Triumph" ERES – recommended

        Listening:   "Rum and Coca Cola" (link to sound recordings )
                   Ballad Calypsos  "Fifty Wives"   "Exploiting"
                   "Bed Bug"

        Responses:  Everyone
        Introduction to In the Castle of My Skin  – give out handout on 1937 labor revolt and its significance

        Paper #1 topics given out

9/28   Week 6 The Modernist Peasant Novel: Paradigm for a Tradition?

Response Questions for Week Six

            Lamming, George.  In the Castle of My Skin
           Responses: Students with last names I-Z (inclusive)

10/ 5    Week 7   The National novel on National History: The 1937 Labor Rebellion and the Rise of the black middle class

   Response Questions for Week Seven

         In the Castle of My Skin cont’d
        Responses: Students with last names A-H inclusive.

10/11     Paper #1 (Topics)  Due by 9 am via email:  With subject heading LIT4192
        (This is so that I can read some of the papers by Wednesday and we can discuss them in class.)

10/12    Week 8   Discussion of Papers / Introduction to Jean Rhys and Voyage in the Dark


                  No Reading and No response papers
                  (no response paper)         

10/19   Week 9   Caribbean Modernism: Women and Exile

           Response Questions for Week  Nine

       Rhys, Jean.  Voyage in the Dark.  Part I
       Responses: Students with last names A-H inclusive.

10/26   Week 10    Black Folk Abroad: Men and Exile

       Response Questions for Week Ten

  *  Complete Voyage in the Dark  &  "Voyage in the Dark Part IV."(original ending) ERES
   * Begin Lonely Londoners   read to @ 67. The book begins on page  21.
     Responses:  Everyone who did not respond last week.

11/2    Week 11    Lonely Londoners continued Plus Abeng -- Note updated assignments

            Response Questions for Week Eleven
            Complete Lonely Londoners
            Cliff, Michele. Abeng
             Responses: Students with last names A-H inclusive
11/9    Week 12   Women Rewriting National History: The Voice of the Folk 
          Response questions for Week Twelve

           Reading Due: Danticat, Edwidge The Farming of Bones.
          Responses:  Students with last names I-Z inclusive

11/16  Week 13  Comparison of Farming of Bones and Abeng

                Response Questions for Week Thirteen
               Comparison of Farming of Bones and Abeng
               Lorde, Audre. “The Uses of the Erotic.”  ERES      
                Responses. Everyone will turn in a one-page paper proposal for your final paper. The paper should ultimately be 8-10 pages. The proposal should 1 page and include your topic, tentative thesis, and description of the evidence you will use from the novels.

11/23   Week 14     First Draft of Second Paper due

        via email Please remember place LIT4192 as the subject heading

11/30   Week 15  Nobel Prize Speeches: The Founding Generation Speaks on the Nature of Caribbean Literature 

    Response questions for Week Fifteen      

 1. Derek Walcott’s Nobel Prize Speech

        2. V.S.  Naipaul’s    Nobel Prize Speech
(print the speeches out and bring them to class)


12/7  Week 16  Workshop on Final Papers and discussion of Nobel Prize Speeches as a means of considering what we've read this semester

Response questions and workshop assignment for Week Sixteen

9 December : Final Paper due via email