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5ABLCF02 The Repeating Island: Conceptualising the Caribbean


Module convenor: Dr Rosa Andújar
Credits: 15
Pre-requisites: none
Teaching pattern: There will be two hours of teaching per week: 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars. 

Module description: 

The Caribbean is one of the world's most difficult spaces to conceptualise and define: it consists of a series of islands with different colonial histories, ethnic groups, and languages. This difficulty even extends to the region's geography: some define the Caribbean as consisting only of the islands; others include the coastal regions; others speak of multiple Caribbeans organised exclusively by language. According to Antonio Benítez Rojo, it is a 'cultural meta-archipelago without centre and without limits'.

This module will introduce students to the complexities of the region from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The module will not attempt a comprehensive history of the region, but rather will offer a nuanced interdisciplinary exploration around four key themes: plantation, carnival, piracy, and hybridity, each of which allows a window into the unique history, politics, and culture of the region. Our exploration of these themes will also introduce a series of questions and topics connected to the larger issues of postcolonialism, transnationalism, and identity politics, which resonate beyond this distinctive space. 

Module aims:

The aims of this module are:

  • To familiarise students with the complex histories, politics, literatures, and cultures of the Caribbean
  • To encourage students to reflect on the rich diversity of Caribbean cultures from a variety of academic disciplines (e.g. literature, history, politics, religion, music, film, geography)
  • To introduce and interrogate some of the analytical frameworks that have been used to understand the region's multifaceted social and cultural life. 

Learning outcomes:

By the end of this module, a successful student is expected to be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledgeable awareness of various elements of Caribbean culture, history and politics

  • Formulate a research topic and identify appropriate analytical approaches
  • Identify, organise and analyse relevant primary and secondary materials around a particular topic

  • To create interactive content that communicates ideas and findings in a clear and accessible manner

  • Gain digital literacy through the use of a new e-learning platform (Mahara) 

Core reading:

We will be reading selections from the following:

Benítez-Rojo, Antonio (1996) The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective, trans. James E. Maraniss. 2nd edn. Durham, NC

Césaire, Aimé (2000) Discourse on Colonialism, trans. Joan Pinkham, Introduction by Robin D. G. Kelley, New York.

Fernández Olmos, Margarite & Paravisini-Gebert, Lizabeth (2011) Creole Religions of the Caribbean: an introduction from Vodou and Santería to Obeah and Espiritismo, 2nd ed. New York.

Glissant, Édouard (1989) Caribbean Discourse: Selected Essays, trans. J. M. Dash. Charlottesville, VA.

Gómez, Pablo (2017) The Experiential Caribbean : Creating Knowledge and Healing in the Early Modern Atlantic. Chapel Hill, NC.

Higman, B. W. (2011) A Concise History of the Caribbean. Cambridge.

James, Cyril L. R. (1994) The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. London. First published 1938.

Manuel, Peter, Bilby, Kenneth and Largey, Michael (1995) Caribbean Currents: Caribbean Music from Rumba to Reggae, Revised Edition. London ; Philadelphia.

Ortiz, Fernando (1995) Cuban Counterpoint: Tobacco and Sugar, trans. Fernando Coronil. Durham, NC and London.

Sheller, Mimi (2003) Consuming the Caribbean : from Arawaks to zombies. London.

Thompson, Krista (2006) An Eye for the tropics: Tourism, Photography, and Framing the Caribbean Picturesque. Durham, NC.


Assessment Pattern: 

50% 2500 word essay; 50% Resource Page (Mahara e-portfolio) 

Reassessment Method:

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt. 

The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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