African and Caribbean Literature

Please note: this is archived course information from 2023 for ENGLISH 346.


The Caribbean, paradise or prison? This island region, by virtue of its geography and history, embraces cultural elements of Africa, India, Europe and North America; this inheritance presents itself today in centrifugal as well as centripetal, diasporic terms.

If the characteristic Caribbean world-view is eclectic, the common history of the region is grounded in the African slave-trade; in particular, beyond the middle passage, the plantation system has fundamentally shaped the demographic, social and economic patterns of the hybrid, cultural forms manifested throughout the Caribbean. 

In this course, we cross national boundaries in order to focus on the dominant problems that surface in the literatures of the region. Our focus will primarily be on Caribbean and African societies, in order to address a range of issues connected to these variously hybrid cultures – slavery, black identity and sexuality, nation/narration, home and location/dislocation. If this involves taking account of myth and history, politics and language, in relation to the connected worlds of Africa and the Caribbean, our first concern will be to investigate literary texts written in these circumstances. 

Both Africa and the Caribbean have occupied the place of fantasy for European and American audiences.  This course looks more closely at literatures that take the measure of this fantasy, perforce, but also achieve what we might call a mixed singularity.

Learning outcomes

  • Students will have explored how race, class, gender, history and identity are presented and problematised in the literary texts
  • Students will have gained a critical understanding of ways in which the theory and practice of postcolonial writing has been conceptualised and understood by scholars working in this field
  • Students will have developed knowledge and understanding of the roles played by various forms of writing in representation of postcolonial subjectivity
  • Students will have gained experience of a range of colonial and postcolonial discourses from countries and regions such as Africa, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, and will have explored issues arising from colonisation, independence and diasporic migration in these areas.
  • Students will have learned how to contextualise postcolonial writing in terms of its historical and geographical specificities, and will have developed their knowledge and understanding of selected themes, enabling them to define and carry out an independent piece of research
  • Students will be familiar with methodological issues and problems of literary and cultural analysis, enabling them to undertake independent research with confidence, at an advanced level



Coursework + exam

Availability 2023

Not taught in 2023





Recommended Reading

Here is a useful page for you. I suggest you put it on your "favourites" and visit it from time to time.

http://www.caribbeanstudies.org.uk/links.htm (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

 Also this list of postcolonial literary journals

 http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/anglophone/pocojournals.html (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Aijaz Ahmad, “Jameson’s Rhetoric of Otherness and the ‘National Allegory'”

Akala -- frequently used as an expert on British history, racism and so on. Call him up online.

Amativa Kumar, Passport Photos

Anthony Appiah, "Is the Post in Postcolonial the same as the Post in Postmodern"

Arundhati Roy,The Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire

Ashcroft, Griffiths, Tiffin, The Post-Colonial Reader

Benita Parry, "Postcolonialism: Conceptual Category or Chimera?"

Catherine Hall, Civilising Subjects, At Home with the Empire: Metropolitan Culture and the Imperial World

Claudia Marquis, '"Making a spectacle of yourself: The art of anger in Jamaica Kincaid's A Small Place.'"  Routledge, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, (2018)

Claudia Marquis, "Home Thoughts from Abroad: Slavery and Cultural Memory", in Contested Identities: Literary Negotiations in Time and Place (2015).

Claudia Marquis," 'Bombarded with Words: Language and Regions in George Lamming's In the Castle of my Skin" in What Country's This? And Whither Are We Gone?" (2010)

Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies

Derek Walcott, What the Twilight Says

Franz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

Fredric Jameson, "Third World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism", in Social Text

Gayatri Spivak, "Subaltern Studies" and "Marginality in the Teaching Machine"

Hamza Alavi, "The State in Postcolonial Societies"

Hilary Beckles, Centering Woman: Gender Discourses in Caribbean Slave Society

Hirsch, Afua, Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging. February, 2018. (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)

Homi BhaBha, "The Other Question" and "Of Mimicry and Man", in Location of Culture

Leela Gandhi, Postcolonial: A Critical Introduction

Material will be added to this list from time to time.

Ngugi WaThiongo, Decolonising the Mind

Pankaj Mishra, From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia (2012).

Paul Gilroy, There Ain’t no Black in the Union Jack                                                                              

"Negotiating Caribbean Identities", New Left Review 209: 3–14.

            "Postcolonialism: What’s in a name?", in Late Imperial Culture

            "The Black Atlantic as a Counterculture of Modernity"

             "What is this Black in Black Popular Culture’"in Gina Dent, Black Popular Culture.

            After Empire: Multiculture or Postcolonial Melancholia

Renu Juneja, Caribbean Transactions: West Indian Culture in Literature

Sara Suleri, "Women Skin Deep: Feminism and the Postcolonial condition"

Stuart Hall, "When was the Postcolonial?", Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices

Tiffin and Lawson, De-Scribing Empire: Post-colonialism and Textuality


Coursework + exam


ENGLISH 346: 15 points


30 points at Stage II in English or Transnational Cultures and Creative Practice, or approval of Academic Head or nominee