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Jill Robbins, Chair 150 W 21st Street, Stop B3700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4936

Spring 2006

SPN 380K • Catalog Course Title: Legends, Chronicles, Memoirs:Fashioning the Caribbean Couter-Archive. Current New Title:Archival Fashioning in Caribbean Letters

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
47200 F
12:00 PM-3:00 PM
BEN 1.118

Course Description

What is the relationship between the Caribbean as an field of study and the creation of archives? How do archives contribute to canonize or monumentalize a Caribbean writer or a historical figure? What forms of archiving--preservation of government records, manuscripts, letters, and unpublished materials; the search for and publication of "secondary" forms of writing--emerge in relationship to the study and the definition of the Caribbean as a region? How has the relationship between culture and archiving developed in colonial and postcolonial regions such as the Caribbean? How are race, slavery and post-slave society, class, and gender implicated in these issues? Is the Caribbean "archive" national, transnational, or diasporic? How have archival politics determined the relationship between literature and historiography in the Caribbean? This seminar will address such questions from contemporary archival theory while reviewing genre forms in Caribbean literature that occupy a hybrid space between fiction and documentation, literature and history, fantasy and fact: legends, memoirs, cr ìnicas, historical novels, and testimonial narratives. We will look into several "case studies" of archival fashioning--the "archivo colombino," "archivo del 1898," among others-- to investigate epistemological, esthetic, and hermeneutic issues in the definition of what is Caribbean history and literature from the sixteenth century to the present.

The course will be organize around the figures and work of "archivist-writers". These are either literary writers, historians, or intellectual figures that have been involved in, have inspired or questioned the production, consolidation, or theorization of important Caribbean or Caribbean-related libraries, archives, or collections. In the case of some writers, these archives in question may be background for the production of historical fiction that we will discuss in class. The Historical Novel as Case Study: The last three decades a trend has emerged among prominent Hispanic Caribbean authors towards writing well-documented historical fictions, a type of minor "boom" after the "Boom". After the peak of the aesthetic of the "fantastic" or "magical realist" novel, there is now a revived interest among Hispanic Caribbean novelists not just in history in the general sense of the word, but in historiography--the instituted methods of historical investigation and writing. In the last section of the course we will explore the reasons why some of these authors decide to move back and forth between "fantasy" and "fact," "fiction" and "archive," by making the practice of historical documentation a crucial part of their postmodern or postcolonial fictional project.

Grading Policy

Oral presentations (20%), short take-home exercise relating fictions and documents (20%), participation (10%), 15-20 page term paper (50%) The take-home exercise will consist of two 4-5 page essay questions related to the theories, texts, and methods discussed in class.


Domingo del Monte, selection of readings Juan Francisco Manzano, Autobiografëa de un esclavo and other documents Alejandro Tapia y Rivera, Mis memorias, Biblioteca Histñrica de Puerto Rico (selections) Lola Rodrëguez de Tiñ, selection of poetry and readings Jose Martñ, Crñnicas y cartas de Nueva York; readings on the celebration of the Centennial of Martë's Birth in Cuba, 1952 Arturo Schomburg, selection of writings, Cayetano Coll y Toste, Leyendas puertorriqueïas, Boletën Histñrico (selections) C. L. R. James, Beyond a Boundary, selections from Black Jacobins Alejo Carpentier, El reino de este mundo, El arpa y la sombra José Luis González, El paðs de cuatro pisos, La luna no era de queso (memorias) Eduoard Glissant, Caribbean Discourse Antonio Benitez Rojo, Mujer en traje de batalla, La isla que se repite Rosario Ferré, Memorias de Ponce, Vecindarios eccéntricos Edgardo Rodrëguez Juliá, Caribe ìos, El camino de Yyaloide, "1797: Pandemonium" (inédito) Ana Lydia Vega, Falsas crñnicas del sur/Olga Nolla, El castillo de la memoria Ana Menéndez, Loving Che Readings packet on Caribbean Theory, Archivology, and Historiography


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