Fall 2010 Voltaire's Coffee: Professor MacKay
Thu, August 26, 2010 • 7:00 PM • Professor MacKay's home; Maps provided to those registered in this VC
Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet)
Cambridge by Caryl Phillips, led by Dr. Carol MacKay, Professor of English
Thursday, August 26, 2010
About the book:
Set in the West Indies in the early nineteenth century, Cambridge tells a compelling tale about a young Englishwoman sent to her father's absentee-landlord estate, where she encounters a mysterious overseer, a practitioner of black magic obeah, and the novel's eponymous male protagonist--the well-spoken Christian slave named Cambridge. Some critics have placed this text in the company of contemporary historical novels like Toni Morrison's Beloved and William Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner, but it also engages the post-colonial conversation recently inspired by comparisons between Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre and Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea, as well as further illuminated by a 2010 documentary entitled A Regular Black about the original source material for Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. It is not necessary for participants in this Voltaire's Coffee to have read any of these other works, however; in fact, a pivotal point for our discussion will be to consider how well Cambridge stands on its own and how it complicates our future and past readings of the Brontë novels.
About the professor:
With degrees from Stanford University and UCLA, Carol MacKay specializes in Victorian fiction, auto/biography, and women's and gender studies. Her most recent book is entitled Creative Negativity: Four Victorian Exemplars of the Female Quest (2001), and she has just published a critical edition of Annie Besant's Autobiographical Sketches (out of print since 1885) for Broadview Press. She is the recipient of numerous teaching awards and is a member of the Distinguished Teaching Academy. She regularly teaches in Plan II, alternating between freshmen seminars on the autobiographical impulse in women's writing and junior tutorials on melodrama in nineteenth-century literature.