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Hellen Lee
English Department


ENGL 165F Caribbean Literature

What does it mean to be Creole? Depending upon specific historical, linguistic, social, national and political contexts, Creole can refer to a language, an ethnicity, a racial category, a marker of birth, and/or a culture. In other words, the meaning of Creole has changed over the centuries from a simple definition of a person of mixed-heritage born in the colonies to a radical political philosophy endorsing pan-African alliance. In this course, we will trace what it means to be Creole in the U.S. and in the Caribbean across time and place, language and ethnicity. We will investigate multi-ethnic perspectives of cross-cultural, transnational coalition and antagonism, as well nationally specific migrations, coalitions and antagonism as mediated through race, class and gender. We will examine texts addressing Haiti, Grenada, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and the U.S.
This course is grounded in a socio-historic approach to literature, hence we investigate literary movements by tracing critical historical paradigms. These paradigms include the plantation, emancipation and its subsequent new labor arrangements, the quest for nationhood and its frequent association with the role of public intellectuals, and the most recent debates around post-coloniality and transnational identities. Students will be asked to imagine to whom the texts are “talking back.” What debates inform each author's arguments and equally important, what aesthetic strategies have Caribbean artists used to creatively engage their environments?