LIT6857   Caribbean Literature & the Haunting of History

W periods 9-11
English Dept. Seminar Room, Turlington 4112
Leah Rosenberg
Office: 4363 Turlington
Office Hours  Tuesdays  T 10:30-12:30 and Thursdays 12-1
email:  Telephone: 392 6650 ext. 238
website with link to syllabus:

In the late 19th century, the first Jamaica short stories told the history of the maroons and of the Morant Bay uprising of 1865. In the 1930s, C.L.R. James celebrated the Haitian Revolution as the fruition of the Enlightenment in his 1936 play and 1938 history both entitled The Black Jacobins. Caribbean historians – Eric Williams and Kamau Brathwaite – have transformed our understanding of plantation society, slavery, and the rise of capitalism. In recent decades, Caribbean writers have rewritten slave rebellions, labor strikes, carnival and revolution into postmodern and science fiction narratives of future planets, lesbian alliances, and cross cultural séances. In short, Caribbean writers have consistently placed history at the center of their work, with a variety of agendas from nationalism and feminism to elitist conservatism. This course examines literary representations of history in the context of colonial historiography, Caribbean revisionist historiography, and recent theories of history, in order to evaluate the relationship of literature to history. Because it is the bicentennial of the Haitian Revolution and because the Haitian Revolution became such a central event for Caribbean literature, we will begin with texts on Haiti, and also consider historical and literary representations of Jamaica, Cuba, Trinidad, and Guyana. Special attention will be paid to the use of different genre and narrative techniques to represent history, in particular, social realism, modernism, postmodernism, popular romance and science fiction. The course will familiarize students with the rare books, manuscripts, and other primary research resources pertinent to Caribbean literary and cultural studies available in the UF collections, nearly all of which are housed in Smathers East and have not been affected by the library renovations.

(1) Presentation.  For each literary text we read, one or two students will present a brief report on the historical documents available concerning the period or event represented in the literary text with particular attention to those documents available in the UF Special Collections or Latin American Collection.  This report will also address conceptual or theoretical issues or questions raised in considering the literary text in relation to these/this primary text(s). (ten minutes per person maximum).
(2) Response Papers. 8 responses to readings.   You select the weeks for which you’d like to write with the exception of week four when I’d like you to complete the assignment of examining a primary historical document. These response papers will mostly be 1-3-page assignments in which you identify one critical question or issue raised in the reading and explain why you think it is important. These questions may address the implications or relevance of secondary or contextual readings for the primary  reading or possibly point to an ‘important’ element in the primary text. One of these will be slightly longer and include examining one historical document, see wk.4.
(3) Abstract. Conference paper abstract and brief bibliography to serve as a paper proposal.
(4) Final Paper. One paper appropriate to present at a conference – information about upcoming Conferences in Caribbean studies to be distributed.


Kingsley Plantation Visitor Center

Bibliography of  related Rarebooks at UF



Week 1 8/25  Conquest

1.Raleigh, Walter, Sir, The discoverie of the large, rich, and bewtiful Empyre of Guiana (excerpts) Ordered at Goerings [OG]
2.Naipaul, V.S.  The Loss of El Dorado [OG]
3.Columbus’s Journals excerpts
4.Hulme, Peter.  Colonial Encounters . Introduction and Chapter 1  “Columbus and the Cannibals”(photocopies)
5.Trouillot, Michel. Silencing the Past. Chapter 4 “Good Day Columbus” [OG]

Week 2  9/1   Narratives of Overseers and Owners

Library visit 4-5:30 – meet in Special Collections Reading Room, Smathers East, 2nd floor.
1.The History of Mary Prince [OG]
2. Hall, Douglas.  In Miserable Slavery (excerpts) [OG]
3. Patterson, Orlando.  Slavery and Social Death Part I

Week 3  9/8  Novels of Slavery

 Meet in the Latin American Collections, Smathers(East) 4th floor for library tour 4:00-4:45.

1.Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda y Arteaga. Sab. [OG]
2. Sommers Foundational Fictions (E-book) : Chapter 1, 2, and 4 (or Part I: Irresistable Romance and Part II: Love and Country: An Allegorical Speculation pp 1-51 and “Sab C’est Moi”)

Week  4  9/15

Brathwaite, Kamau. The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica, part III “the Society” pp 105-239.

Weekly assignment mandatory this week:
Consider the representation of white and brown creole women in one account from the period between 1770 and 1840 (below are some options). Concisely describe the source , its representation of white and brown women, and the perspective it seems to take (e.g. pro slavery, anti slavery, pro plantocracy) OR consider Brathwaite’s method of critiquing and employing  this source (or such sources) in his history. Consult the original or microfilm. (roughly 3 pages)

The Journal of Lady Nugent [OG and on reserve)
Edward Long,   The History of Jamaica (on reserve)

Edwards, Bryan. The history civil and commercial, of the British colonies in the West Indies. To which is added, An historical survey of the French colony in the island of St. Domingo
Moreton, J.B. Manners and customs in the West India islands.

Week  5  9/22  Modernism and Slavery

Rhys, Jean Wide Sargasso Sea [OG]
Hulme, Peter “The Locked Heart”

Week  6  9/29  Brathwaite’s historiography and poetics of Slavery

Presentation: Deicy Jimenez

1. Brathwaite. The Arrivants. (“Islands”) [OG]  "Masks"  and selections from "Rights of Passage"

2. Brathwaite.   The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica, 1770-1820.  "Introduction", Chapter 8 "Jamaica: Colonial or Creole?" and  19 and 20 Creolization and Conclusion"

3. Scott, David. Refashioning Futures (Chapter 5) E-Book

Recommended:  Bolland, O. Nigel.  "Creolisation and Creole Societies: A Cultural Nationalist View of Caribbean Social History." in Questioning Creole.

Reserve: Rohlehr, Gordon.  Pathfinder   (critical and close reading of The Arrivants)

Week 7  10/6 Histories of the Haitian Revolution

1. Philip, Caryl. Cambridge
2. Hutcheon, Linda.  A Poetics of Postmodernism
         Chapters 6, & 8.
3. Mrs. C.A. Carmichael
 Domestic manners and social condition of the white, coloured, and Negro population of the West Indies [Section on Cambridge] – photocopy
4. Marly (1828) [Section on Cambridge] – photocopy

Week 8 10/13 Histories of the Haitian Revolution

1. Trouillot, Michel Silencing the Past [OG] Chapters 1,2,3,5
2. James, CLR.  The Black Jacobins

Week 9 10/20

6:00  presentation on documents concerning Anna Kingsley with Jim Cusick in the Special Collections!!
 Glissant, Edouard.  Caribbean Discourse (selections) (on reserve)
Carpentier, Alejo The Kingdom of this World
and introduction to the Spanish editions
Possible historical texts and contexts:
Vandercook, John W. Black Majesty (biography of Henry Christophe)

Week 10  10/27  Florida and Slavery

1. Schafer, David. Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley [OG]
2. Dizard, Robin and Mark N. Taylor, eds. The African Daughter: a True Tale [electronic reserve]
tba reading on national monuments to slavery and emancipation
Field Trip

Week 11 11/3

1. Geggus, David.  Haitian Revolutionary Studies (E-Book),
 “New Approaches and Old” and in The Impact of the Haitian Revolution,  “The Caradeux and Colonial Memory.” (Photocopy).
2. Chauvet, Marie.  Dancing on the Volcano (photocopy)
possible texts and Contexts:
Fouchard, Jean.  Le Théâtre  à Saint Domingue

Secret History or The Horrors of St. Domingo

Week 12  Sunday 11/14  4-7  place tba

Lovelace, Earl Salt

Week 13 11/17

Reid, Vic. New Day [photocopies]
Possible contextual readings:
Chakrabarty, Dipesh.  “Who speaks for “Indian” Pasts?
Representations 37 (Winter 1992):1-26. (JSTOR)
Balibar, Etienne.  “Nation Form”
National Rhonda Cobham essay on representations of the Morant Bay Rebellion... in Small Axe
Hall, Catherine.  White Male and Middle Class (chapter on Eyre)
Holt, Thomas The Problem of Freedom
 Heumann, Gad.  The Killing Time

Week. 15  Sunday 11/21 or Sunday 11/28  place tba

1. Shepherd, Verene. Maharani’s Misery [OG]
2. Dabydeen David. Coolie Odyssey [photocopies]
3. Rodney Walter A History of the Guyanese Working People, 1881-1905 chapter 6 & 7 [photocopies]

Week 16 Working People in the early 1900s

1. Brodber, Erna Standing Tall *(I am ordering this book from Jamaica for the class)
2. — Lousiana [OG]

possible other sources:
the Moyne Report
Newspaper coverage (The Gleaner and Jamaica labour weekly) )
Hart, Richard.  Rise and organise : the birth of the workers and national movements in Jamaica, 1936_1939
Richard Hart's collected papers, 1937_1966