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Image of the Caribbean . Jan van de Straet’s engraving “America”--the new world as a woman. On Diaspora.

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image of the caribbean
Image of the Caribbean
  • Jan van de Straet’s engraving “America”--the new world as a woman
on diaspora
On Diaspora
  • “…diasporic cultural forms can never, in practice, be exclusively nationalist. They are deployed in transnational networks built from multiple attachments, and they encode practices of accommodation with, as well as resistance to, host countries and their norms.” --James Clifford
diasporic cultures in the caribbean
Diasporic Cultures in the Caribbean
  • “The Caribbean is a region in which the aboriginal communities [Amerindians-- Arawaks, Caribs, etc.] were virtually exterminated, and replaced by peoples from Africa, Asia and Europe.” --Louis James
  • names: West Indies (Anglophone) / the Antilles (Francophone) / the Caribbean
caribbean literature chronology 1
Caribbean Literature--Chronology 1
  • 1492-96 Columbus’s “discovery” of the West Indies
  • 1808 Britain and USA abolished slave trade
  • 1838 complete abolition of slavery in British colonies
  • 1845 East Indian indentured laborers in Trinidad; Chinese indenture in French colonies
  • 1950 “colonization in reverse”: West Indian migration to England
colonization in reverse
“Colonization in Reverse”
  • What a joyful news, Miss Mattie;
  • Ah feel like me heart gwine burs--
  • Jamaica people colonizin
  • Englan in reverse
  • By de hundred, by de tousan
  • From country an from town,
  • By de ship-load, by the plane-load,
  • Jamaica is Englan boun.
Dem a pout out a Jamaica;
  • Everybody future plan
  • Is fi get a big-time job
  • An settle in de motherlan
  • What a islan! What a people!
  • Man an woman, ole and young
  • Jussa pack dem bag an baggage
  • An tun history upside dung!
  • --Louis Bennett
trickster tradition
Trickster Tradition
  • Anancy stories (spider)—from West Africa—the experience of the Middle Passage in animal forms (42)
  • The “Monkey Business”—the monkey as a gentleman-like animal—a symbol of the (pseudo-)colonizer—undressing unmasking the (pseudo-)colonizer
  • Functions of a trickster—for survival and revenge
caribbean literature chronology 2
Caribbean Literature--Chronology 2
  • 1958-62 The Federation of the West Indies
  • 1962 independence for Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago; restrictions imposed on West Indian immigration to Britain
  • 1966 independence for Barbados and Guyana
caribbean literature overview 1
Caribbean Literature--Overview 1
  • Edward Kamau Brathwaite--“Little Tradition” (the culture of ordinary people) vs “Great Tradition”--the writer functions in, from, for his own society (cultural nationalism)
  • V.S. Naipaul —voluntary exile— writer’s “self-cultivation” to get out of West Indies, a “destitute,” sterile void
caribbean literature overview 2
Caribbean Literature--Overview 2
  • “New Day”--London West Indies
  • importance of West Indian poetry since Independence--openness to pop culture and esp. to music (reggae and calypso); appeal of public performance; acceptance of social responsibility --poetry has a “function” (poetry vs fiction as a middle-class genre)
  • amateur poetic practice in the WI
caribbean women s writings major themes
Caribbean Women’s Writings—Major Themes
  • female Bildungsroman: stories of growth and development--national allegory: the personal as the political
  • racial and class issues and the process of socialization
  • “Mother Country” vs mother land
  • the process of education and mother-daughter relationship--usually alienation

the grandmother as the positive figure

major themes 2
Major Themes 2
  • female sexualities
  • stereotyping
  • male-female relationship--the abuse and objectification of women in the Caribbean society
  • importance of human resources, especially sisterhood
  • the close connection of women and nature (the land)
working miracles women s lives
Working Miracles: Women’s Lives
  • Single mothers as breadwinners (1/2 of the Caribbean households are headed by womenThe Dancehall Queen)—absent father (mother)—child-shifting (adoptions–“Bright Thursdays” adopting to fill in an empty space for the grandparents 210)
  • Outside children—children born out of a father’s stable residential union—but legitimacy is not an issue

Olive Senior, Working Miracles: Women’s Lives in the English-Speaking Caribbean (Chapter 1)

bright thursdays genealogy
“Bright Thursdays”--Genealogy
  • Dolphie Watson Miss Christie
  • Mina Bertram Myrtle Johnstone

(white) (brown) (dark)

Laura 2 sons (2 fathers)

(Bertram’s Mistake; Bertram’s stray shot)

  • A child’s perspective—a gradual process of alienation and othering—Laura’s burdens in life (194, 210, 206)
color system in the caribbean society
Color System in the Caribbean Society
  • “Dying to raise their color all of them” (199)
  • The color triangle: white



narrative techniques space
Narrative Techniques—Space
  • Spatial imagery—to carry out the sense of displacement—transported from mother’s house to father’s—out of place or no space (photos on the bureau195)——fear of open space, empty space (the dinning table 196; father’s house 204-05)—enclosures (hemmed in 203, blue bowl 204)—desire for a protective space (mother’s house 203) or safe space (digging potatoes 207)
  • What are the meanings of the mirror in the story?
narrative techniques contrasts
Narrative Techniques—Contrasts
  • Inside/outside (203)—sense of insecurity—searching for a safe space
  • Meal: mother’s house—natural

grandmother’s—ritual (the Table, Table Manners, the Meal 195-96)

Can you think of other examples of contrasts in the story?

bright thursday title and ending
“Bright Thursday”—Title and Ending
  • What is the meaning of the title?
  • dreaming about being rescued by her father; will bring nothing but bright Thursdays (208)
  • A fairy tale created by her mother—Myrtle causes her displacement, “a life of solitude,” and silence (205)
  • A story of disillusionment—the breaking up of her hope and dreams—“bloody bastard” (211)
  • What do you think about the ending?