Read Miranda Speaks: Caribbean Women Writers text version

Abigail Palko ([email protected]) Office Hours: M, 1-3 pm

Office: 325 OShaughnessy Hall Telephone: 631-8635

ENGL 20712: Miranda Speaks: Caribbean Women Writers

The Caribbean has fascinated Europe since Columbuss 15th century voyages, rapidly inspiring the Shakespearean figures of Caliban, Prospero, and Miranda. In the 20th century, Caribbean (male) intellectuals appropriated these tropes, figuring themselves as Caliban to Europes Prospero. This new configuration of power, however, still silenced Miranda, an exclusion that Caribbean women have sought to rectify for the past four decades. This course will begin with two plays written by men in order to contextualize the trope of Caliban and Miranda, illustrating the ways in which the Caribbean has figured in Western imaginations since its "discovery"; it will then focus on the development of womens voices in their attempts to define and describe their unique concerns. Novels have been chosen to represent the diversity of authors at work in this region; as such, they come from six different islands (plus the US and France) with varied cultures and traditions, representing three of the dominant linguistic traditions (English, French, and Spanish) in the Caribbean. Readings are grouped thematically, exploring themes such as colonization, madness, childhood, memory, and subjugation (also touching on family relationships, love, and sexuality), with the objective of arriving at a fundamental, but necessarily incomplete, understanding of this complex region and its concerns as expressed in its radical rereading of Western culture. As early as our reading of Sylvia Wynters essay "Beyond Mirandas Meanings: Un/silencing the ,,Demonic Ground of Calibans ,,Woman," we will begin to see why the course title is necessarily problematic and to explore the various restrictions of womens voices in the Caribbean and the implications of overcoming them. Authors to be read include: Michelle Cliff, Maryse Condé, Edwidge Danticat, Cristina Garcia, Merle Hodge, Kate McCafferty, Gisèle Pineau, and Jean Rhys. Course requirements include five short response papers (1-2 pages), a research paper (6-9 pages), an oral presentation, participation, and midterm/final exams. Primary Texts: 1. William Shakespeare, The Tempest 2. Aimé Césaire, Une Tempête (A Tempest) (1969; Martinique) 3. Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966; Dominica) 4. Merle Hodge, Crick Crack, Monkey (1970; Trinidad) 5. Michelle Cliff, Abeng (1984; Jamaica) 6. Maryse Condé, Moi, Tituba, sorcière... (I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem) (1986; Guadeloupe) 7. Gisele Pineau, La Grande Drive des esprits (The Drifting of Spirits) (1993; Guadeloupe) 8. Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994; Haiti) 9. Kate McCafferty, Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl (2002; USA) 10. Cristina Garcia, Monkey Hunting (2003; Cuba) 11. Jan Rogonzinski, A Brief History of the Caribbean

Palko, "Miranda Speaks: Caribbean Women Writers"


Secondary Texts ­ Theory: (purchase is optional ­ copies will be provided on EReserves) 1. Anne McClintock, Aamir Mufti, and Ella Shohat, eds. Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives 2. Carol Boyce Davies and Elaine Savory Fido, eds. Out of the Kumbla: Caribbean Women and Literature Independent Novels: (You will be required to choose ONE of the following novels for your final project to read independently; when possible, they will be available on reserve in the library.) 1. Mayotte Capécia, Je suis martiniquaise (1948; Martinique) 2. Sylvia Wynter, The Hills of Hebron (1966; Cuba/Jamaica) 3. Simone Schwartz-Bart, Pluie et vent sur Telumée Miracle (1972; Guadeloupe) 4. Cristina Garcia, Dreaming in Cuban (1992 ; Cuba/US) 5. Rosario Ferré, The House on the Lagoon (1995; Puerto Rico) 6. Michelle Cliff, No Telephone to Heaven (1996; Jamaica) 7. Jamaica Kincaid, The Autobiography of My Mother (1997; Antigua and Barbuda) 8. Edwidge Danticat, The Farming of Bones (1998; Haiti/US) 9. Julia Alvarez, In the Name of Salomé (2000; US/Dominican Republic) 10. Gisèle Pineau, Chair Piment (2002 ; Guadeloupe/France) Requirements: 30% Research Paper [5% a preliminary annotated bibliography; 25% paper] ­ details to be provided at a later date 10% Presentation [to be done on the independent novel you have chosen] 30% Participation [including the informal response papers] 15% Midterm 15% Final Required assignments include: One response paper per unit (1-2 typed pages) to be factored into your participation grade. They will be informal in nature in that I am looking for your reaction to readings/class discussions, NOT secondary research. This is an opportunity for you to further explore issues raised in class discussions and readings; one or more of these may develop into part of your research paper) A research paper (6-9 pages). This paper asks you to examine your chosen independent novel in comparison with 1-2 of the class novels. Your analysis must be supported by secondary research (at least 2 critical responses to each of the novels) An oral presentation about your independent novel Participation in class discussions Midterm and Final exams

Palko, "Miranda Speaks: Caribbean Women Writers"


Rationale and Objectives: In our efforts to explore the historical and intellectual developments of the region, we will quickly discover the great variety of experiences that have converged to shape the region today. This course will introduce postcolonial theory, specifically as it pertains to the Caribbean, and serve as an initial survey of the diverse literary offerings of this region. It will also examine the major literary movements of Caribbean literature, including négritude, antillanité, creolitité, and la folie antillaise in order to determine where womens voices fit within this tradition. While this study will permit the exploration of the different nuances of female voices to be discovered in this rich literary tradition, it also will reveal the common themes and concerns of Caribbean women as they answer back to the Western tradition that has shaped their reality. Students will be encouraged to analyze the readings and their concerns, make connections between texts, move across boundaries (both geographical and intellectual) and understand various forms of fiction. They will also be prompted to undertake literary analysis in their own writing, and assignments and instructor feedback are designed to assist the students in improving their writing skills.

Class etiquette: In developing the following policies, I was primarily guided by an understanding of our purposes in gathering twice a week, which I see as 1) developing your reading and literary analysis skills, primarily of the Caribbean, and 2) preparing you as future professionals; they are intended to facilitate both objectives. I expect that class will not be interrupted by cell phones or text messages. Email ­ Please use a subject line that indicates your content. Also, please compose the email in a professional manner (i.e., greeting and closing, including your name) Attendance ­ We will cover a book every 2-3 class sessions. Not surprisingly, I would like everyone to attend everyday ­ its hard to contribute to discussions at which you are not present. That said, any absence after your SECOND will be reflected in your final grade. If you will be absent, please send me a courtesy email informing me of the day(s) you are missing. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR FINDING OUT FROM A CLASSMATE WHAT YOU HAVE MISSED. Additionally, ABSENCE IS NOT AN EXCUSE TO NOT TURN IN WORK ON TIME ­ EMAIL IT TO ME. Plagiarism cannot be tolerated. Please be mindful of the Honor Code pledge ­ "As a member of the Notre Dame community, I will not participate in or tolerate academic dishonesty." ­ I will ask you to sign it on your exams and research paper, which must be done on your own, with any ideas of scholars properly cited (Please use MLA style). You may discuss the readings with classmates both before and after class meetings; I ask that you acknowledge your peers ideas should they influence your response paper (a simple footnote to that effect will suffice).

Palko, "Miranda Speaks: Caribbean Women Writers"


Course Outline: This syllabus can be modified to meet the needs (as determined by me) of the class. Readings and assignments are due the class day on which they are listed.

The Caliban Trope Week 1: 8/28: 8/30:

Introduction Shakespeare, The Tempest Fadiman, "Procrustes and the Culture Wars" ­ e (indicates this reading is available through e-reserves at the library; printing it is optional)

Week 2: 9/4: 9/6:

Césaire, Une Tempête Rogozinski, Brief History [Preface] [section from the text to be read] Sylvia Wynter, "Beyond Mirandas Meanings: Un/silencing the ,,Demonic Ground of Calibans ,,Woman" (Davies and Fido 355-72) ­ e Roberto Fernández Retamar, "Caliban Speaks Five Hundred Years Later" (McClintock, Mufti, and Shohat 163-72) ­ e Rogozinski, Brief History [Chapters 1 & 3] ** Last day to submit this units response paper

Madness Become Lucid: Caribbean Women Begin Writing Week 3: 9/11: 9/13: Julia Alverez, "Stories I Steer by as a Writer" (lecture; 4:00, McKenna Auditorium in place of our regularly scheduled class meeting) Carol Boyce Davies and Elaine Savory Fido, "Women and Literature in the Caribbean: an Overview" (Davies and Fido 1-24) ­ e Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea [Parts One and Two]

Week 4: 9/18: 9/20:

Rhys, cont. [Part Three] Hodge, Crick Crack Monkey [Chapters 1-15] Hodge, cont. [Chapters 16-24] Evelyn OCallaghan, "Interior Schisms Dramatised: The Treatment of the ,,Mad Woman in the Work of Some Female Caribbean Novelists" (Davies and Fido 89-110) ­ e ** Last day to submit this units response paper

Palko, "Miranda Speaks: Caribbean Women Writers" The Child Speaks Week 5: 9/25: Anne McClintock, ",,No Longer in a Future Heaven: Gender, Race, and Nationalism" (McClintock, Mufti, and Shohat 89-112) ­ e Cliff, Abeng [I] Cliff, cont. [II]


9/27: Week 6: 10/2: 10/4: Week 7: 10/9: 10/11:

Cliff, cont. [III] Danticat¸ Breath, Eyes, Memory [One]

Danticat, cont. [Two and Three] Rogozinski, Brief History [Chapters 9 (pp. 107-14), 12 & 15] Danticat, cont. [Four] bell hooks, "Sisterhood: Political Solidarity Between Women" (McClintock, Mufti, and Shohat 396-411) ­ e ** Last day to submit this units response paper

Week 8: 10/16: 10/18:

Midterm exam Trinh T. Minh-ha, "Not You/Like You: Postcolonial Women and the Interlocking Questions of Identity and Difference" (McClintock, Mufti, and Shohat 415-19) ­ e Semester midterm break [10/22-10/26]

Week 9:

The Post-colonial Memory Claims Its Voice Week 10: 10/30: 11/1: Week 11: Pineau, The Drifting of Spirits ["A Time for Going Around"] Rogozinski, Brief History [Chapter 11] Pineau, cont. ["A Time for Coming Around"] Independent work (final project) Conferences, time & date TBA Preliminary Bibliography due at the individual conference

Week 12: 11/13: 11/15:

Maryse Condé, I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem [I] Rogozinski, Brief History [Chapter 7] Condé, cont. [II, Epilogue] ** Last day to submit this units response paper

Palko, "Miranda Speaks: Caribbean Women Writers" Subjugation Knows No Color Lines: The Caribbean "Slave" Experiences of Non-African Cultures Week 13: 11/20:


11/22: Week 14: 11/27: 11/29:

McCafferty, Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl Rogozinski, Brief History [Chapter 6] Rough outline of research paper (1 page MAXIMUM) due [Thanksgiving] Garcia, Monkey Hunting ["Origins"] Rogozinski, Brief History [Chapter 13] Garcia, cont. ["Traveling through the flesh", "Last Rites"] ** Last day to submit this units response paper

Conclusions Week 15: 12/4:

12/6: Week 16: 12/11:

Paper due (via email) Rogozinski, Brief History [Chapter 18] Presentations Presentations, cont. TCEs Wrap-up

Final exam date: TBA, per the University schedule

As you read each of the novels, please reflect upon each of these universal questions, which will form the basis of our discussions: What are the novels strengths and weaknesses? Think about the title. What is its source? What significance does it have? Describe the novels style. How does it contribute to the authors message? What (if any) is the role of history in this novel? How do you see this author engaging with womens issues in this novel? What thematic explorations (such as colonization, madness, childhood, memory, subjugation, family relationships, love, and sexuality) does the author undertake? What does she have to say about these themes? 7. What makes this a Caribbean novel? 8. What makes this a womans novel? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.


Miranda Speaks: Caribbean Women Writers

6 pages

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