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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Spring 2009

T C 357 • Modern Caribbean Cultures: Fiction, Music, Film

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
42842 TTh
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
CRD 007A

Course Description

In this seminar we will investigate the cultures of the Caribbean, focusing on the questions of identity, race, hybridity, créolité, language, revolution and culture as they are negotiated in the post-colonial context. In our readings from diverse authors and nations, we will also study the colonial history of the Caribbean islands and the on-going complexities of each island's relationship with England, France, Spain, and the U.S. in the past as well as in the present. Writing from the space between North America and Europe, the Caribbean author occupies a unique position from which to reflect on the dueling forces of contemporary cultural hegemonies. In conjunction with the novels we will see several films (The Harder They Come; Sugar Cane Alley; Before Night Falls; I Am Cuba; Buena Vista Social Club) and read criticism by C.L.R. James, Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Edouard Glissant, and Gayatri Spivak as it relates to our themes. Student presentations will introduce the music of the various Caribbean cultures (Reggae, Calypso, Merengue, Rara, Dub, Zouk, Salsa, etc) and we will consider the links between the various art forms.

Grading Policy

Each student will be expected to come to each class fully prepared to discuss the day's reading. Students will give brief presentations on the history of the islands each author is writing from or about (Trinidad, Antigua, Guadaloupe, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic) and one of the indigenous or popular forms of music from the island. A week later, they will turn in a short (5-7 page) paper relating the text to some aspect of the presentation. During the course of the term, each student will select a Caribbean novel or film not included on our syllabus and write a final 15 page paper on it. The last week of class we will hold a mini-conference in which students present their work in brief oral exposés in preparation for the Senior Thesis Symposium.

Class participation: 20%
1st presentation: 15%
Short paper: 15%
2nd presentation: 25%
Final paper: 25%


Anglophone Caribbean
V.S. Naipaul, A Way in the World
Michelle Cliff, No Telephone to Heaven
Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John

Francophone Caribbean
Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land & Discourse on Colonialism
Edwidge Danticat, The Farming of Bones
Patrick Chamoiseau, Solibo Magnificent

Hispanophone Caribbean
Julia Alvarez, In the Time of Butterflies
Esmeralda Santiago, When I Was Puerto Rican
Sanchez, Macho Camacho's Beat

Eric Williams, From Columbus to Castro: The History of the Caribbean

About the Professor :

Alexandra Wettlaufer is an Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature and Associate Director of the Plan II Honors Program. She specializes in the relationship between painting and literature in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. She received her BA from Princeton and a PhD from Columbia University. Her publications include Pen vs Paintbrush: Girodet, Balzac and the Myth of Pygmalion (St Martins Press, 2001), In the Minds Eye: The Visual Impulse in Prose (Rodopi, 2003) and articles on Baudelaire, Ruskin, Turner, George Sand, and Flora Tristan. She was awarded the Presidents Fellows Teaching Award in 2000 and the Blunk Professorship in Teaching and Advising in 2007.


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