“New” World Studies: Maroons, Rebels, and Pirates of the Caribbean


This course will introduce students to a vast body of diverse literature—life writings, autobiographies, novels, film, poetry, and plays—that focus on an “interstitial” Caribbean, with “interstitial” referring to works that are not only from the Caribbean but also are about the Caribbean as image and imaginary. Engaging classics such as Aphra Behns Oroonoko, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Bronte’s Jane Eyre, alongside more contemporary titles such as Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, Aime Cesaire’s A Tempest, and Marlon James’ Book of Night Women, this seminar will primarily explore how literature worked culturally to construct (and deconstruct) the New World. In particular, the Caribbean is often imagined as an “other” space identifiable with maroonage, rebellion, and piracy. Other themes, topics, and concepts that we might broach in our text-driven conversations include madness, (im)morality, migration (voluntary and involuntary), gender, race, citizenship, sexuality, old world and new world, voodoo and magic, revolution and rebellion, religion, coloniality, independence, and postcoloniality. We will also explore literature, film, and music that engage nonspecific archetypes such as the tragic mulatto, icons/historical figures such as Nanny of the Maroons and Toussaint L’Overture, the ever-elusive trickster Anansi, and mythic explorations such as the “El Dorado” (the Golden City). TOur inquiry, therefore, will remain an interdisciplinary one in which writers such as Daniel Defoe, Bronte, and Shakespeare can be placed directly in conversation with Jamaica Kincaid, Kamau Brathwaite, and Wilson Harris. A portion of our inquiry might be dedicated to films such as El Dorado and the Pirates of the Caribbean series, which contribute to ongoing contemporary representations of Caribbean identity. Students taking this course are highly encouraged to enroll in the Spring 2014 intermediate seminar titled, “New” World Literatures: Fictions of the Yard.