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American Studies: Intersecting Cultures

The Caribbean

AMST 330:500 TR 9:35-10:50 Spring 2008 HRBB 126 Prof. Jackson Bloc 201F 845-8332 [email protected]

Office Hours: T 11-12 & by Appt. ______________________________________________________________________________

Course Description In 1996, the late Cuban critic, novelist and short story writer Antonio Benítez-Rojo wrote, "let's be realistic: the Atlantic is the Atlantic (with all its ports and cities) because it was once engendered by the copulation of Europe--that insatiable solar bull--with the Caribbean Archipelago." This violent, copulatory metaphor is Benítez-Rojo's elaboration of the economic, cultural and psychological relationship that has existed between the Caribbean and Europe since the late 15th century. Benítez-Rojo's claim will serve as a framework for our exploration of how and why the Caribbean has come to serve as a space of wealth and play for Europe and the Americas while being culturally marginalized, chronically underdeveloped and consistently reduced to any number of consumable signs (Malibu rum, bananas, etc.). As an American Studies Course, our object of study will be broadly construed as `the Caribbean', configured in our readings at three moments in the development of its culture, history, and economy and across its ethnic and linguistic diversity: 1) beginnings, 2) resistance, 3) independence and underdevelopment. In addition to work by Aimé Césaire and Jamaica Kincaid, we will listen to music by calypsonian David Rudder, read from Columbus' letters and the writings of the Spanish priest Bartolomé de Las Casas (credited with helping to make New World slavery an

institution), and from the work of a former Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago, Eric Williams. Through these and other texts, including film, we approach the Caribbean not as an insular region or as an extension of the Americas. Instead, we will investigate precisely how it functions as a "bridge" between the Americas, how it has shaped the Atlantic region, and how it has shaped the modern world. By the end of the course, students will have a greater knowledge of the following: the social and political history of the region; the relationship between race and capital; the relationship between regional aesthetics and world political and economic systems, as well as a deeper knowledge of empire and post/neo/colonialism. Disclaimer The texts that we will read this semester contain sensitive material with regard to race, religion, sexuality, nationalism and civilization. We will explore these issues critically and specifically within the larger themes of this course. If you have difficulty with this material or are unwilling to consider these issues in a critical manner, you may wish to take another course in which you are not similarly challenged. Texts Required Books Aimé Césaire. Discourse on Colonialism Eric Williams. Capitalism and Slavery Course Pack: Notes and Quotes, University Ave. All other material will be provided by the instructor). Required Films Life and Debt. Showings: April 1, 4-6pm Evans Library Annex, Rm. 417C & April 3, 9:30-11:30am Evans Library Annex Rm. 417B. Also available on Login using NetID. Before Night Falls. Showings: April 8, 4-6pm Evans Library Annex, Rm. 417C & April 10, 9:30-11:30am, Rm. 417B. Also available on Login using NetID.

Supplemental Reading Arnold, A. James. Modernism and Negritude: the poetry and poetics of Aimé Césaire. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard UP, 1981. Arenas, Reinaldo. Before night falls. Trans. Dolores M. Koch. New York: Viking, 1993. Best, Curwen. "Technology Constructing Culture: Tracking Soca's First `Post-`." Small Axe. No.9, March 2001. Brenan, Timothy. "The National Longing for Form." The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. Ed. Bill Ashcroft, et al. London: Routledge, 1995. 170-175. Burton, Richard D. E. Afro-Creole: Power, Opposition, and Play in the Caribbean. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1997. Cannon, Terence. Revolutionary Cuba. New York: Crowell, 1981. Carew, Jan. "The End of Moorish Enlightenment and the Beginning of the Columbian Era." Race, Discourse, and the origin of the Americas : a new world view. Eds. Vera Lawrence Hyatt and Rex Nettleford. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995. 2

Chua, Amy. World on fire: how exporting free market democracy breeds ethnic hatred and global instability. New York: Doubleday, 2003. Dash, J. Michael. The Other America: Caribbean Literature in a New World Context. Charlottesville, NC: University Press of Virginia, 1998. Digital Collections of the Aztez Codices: Edwards, Nadi. "Preface: Talking about Culture: Re-Thinking the Popular." Small Axe. No. 9, March 2001. Gikandi, Simon. Writing in limbo: modernism and Caribbean literature. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell UP, 1992. Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1993. Glissant, Edouard. Caribbean Discourse: Selected Essays. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1989. Goveia, Elsa. A Study of the Historiography of the British West Indies to the end of the Nineteenth Century. Washington, D.C.: Howard UP, 1956, 1980. Guillen, Nicolas. Sóngoro Cosongo: poemas mulatos. La Habana : Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba, 1994. --------. The daily daily.[El diario que a diario.] Trans. Vera M. Kutzinski. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1989. Hall, Stuart. "Negotiating Caribbean Identities." New Left Review. 209 (1995). 4-14. Jagan, Cheddi. The West on Trial: my fight for Guyana's freedom. 1980. Antigua: Hansib Caribbean, 1997. Keegan, William F. "Columbus and the City of Gold." The People Who Discovered Columbus: the Prehistory of the Bahamas. University Press of Florida, 1992. Kincaid, Jamaica. A Small Place. New York: Penguin, 1988. Knight, Franklin. "The Political Geography of the Pre-Hispanic Caribbean." The Caribbean: the Genesis of a Fragmented Nationalism. New York: Oxford UP, 1990. ---------."Patterns of Colonization in the New World." Ibid. Kale. Madhavi. Fragments of Empire: Capital, Slavery, and Indian Indentured Labor Migration in the British Caribbean. Philadelphia, PA: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1998. Lewis, Gordon K. Main currents in Caribbean thought: the historical evolution of Caribbean society in its ideological aspects, 1492-1900. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins UP, 1983. Macpherson, Anne S. "Viragos, Victims and Volunteers: Creole Female Political Cultures and Gendered State Policy in 19th Century Belize. Belize: selected proceedings from the second interdisciplinary conference. Ed. Michael D. Phillips. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1996. 23-44. Marx, Karl. "Letter to Annenkov." The Marx-Engels Reader. Ed. Tucker. New York: W.W. Norton, 1978. McClintock, Anne. Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Conquest. New York: Routledge, 1994. Madureira, Luís. "The Marvelous Royalty of Henri Christophe's Kingdom: Cultural Difference and the Temporality of Underdevelopment." Cannibal Modernities: postcoloniality and the avant-garde in Caribbean and Brazilian literature. University of Virginia Press, 2005. 164-191. Parham, Mary Gomez. "British Patriarchy and Female Adolescence: Father and Daughter in Beka Lamb." Belize: selected proceedings from the second interdisciplinary conference. Ed. Michael D. Phillips. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1996. 143-153. 3

Perez-Stable, Marifeli. The Cuban Revolution: Origins, Course, and Legacy. New York: Oxford UP, 1993. O'Callaghan, Evelyn. Woman Version: theoretical approaches to West Indian fiction by women. London: Macmillan Caribbean, 1993. Rohlehr, Gordon. "The Calypsonian as Artist: Freedom and Responsibility." Small Axe. No. 9, March 2001. Saunders, Kay, ed. Indentured Labor in the British Empire, 1834-1920. London: Croom and Helm, 1984. Stephens, Michelle Ann. Black Empire: the Masculine Global Imaginary of Caribbean Intellectuals in the United States, 1914-1962. Durham: Duke UP, 2005. Sweet, James H. "The Iberian Roots of American Racist Thought." The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., Vol. 54, No. 1. (Jan., 1997), pp. 143-166. Donnell, Alison and Sara Lawson Welsh, eds. The Routledge Reader in Caribbean Literature. New York: Routledge, 1996. Walcott, Derek. "The Muse of History." Is Massa Day Dead? Black Moods in the Caribbean. Ed. Orde Coombes. New York: Doubleday, 1974. 1-27. Williams, Eric. From Columbus to Castro: the History of the Caribbean 1492-1969. New York: Vintage Books, 1970. Winn, Peter. Americas: the Changing Face of Latin America and the Caribbean. Berkeley, UC Press, 2006. Grading Midterm Exam Paper/Project Final Exam Participation 25% 25% 35% 15% Course Requirements: Exams The Midterm Exam will be given in class on Feb. 28 and will cover all material to that point in class. It will consist of several categories which include but are not limited to: short answer, identification. The Final Exam is cumulative and will follow a similar format to the midterm but will include an essay component. It will be held on Friday, May 2. Presentation Throughout the semester, you are required to keep abreast of current events in the Caribbean through such Caribbean based newspapers as The Gleaner, The Stabroek News, etc. We will devout the last 10 minutes of our Thursday classes to discussing current events. Students will sign up and be responsible for identifying and introducing the event. This will constitute at least half of your participation grade. Written Assignment Short Paper/Project Due Date: April 3 4

Length: 5-6 pages Option 1: You may choose writing by any figure from the early period of exploration and colonization in the Caribbean, such as Las Casas, Sir Walter Raleigh, or Christopher Columbus. Using at least four secondary sources, write a critical interpretation of that work. Option 2A Using as your primary source, Capitalism and Slavery, you are to find at least four secondary sources that critique Williams's thesis. Using this material, you must develop an argument either in support of or against Williams claims about the historical relationship between enslaved black labor and the rise of capitalism and the wealth of first world nations. Option 2B Consider a close study of Williams's material thesis and the arguments about the social structure of the plantation. Is economics the sole determining factor of Caribbean social organization? How do economics shape cultural organization and expression? Does one determine the other? What are the implications of the economic factor for different forms of resistance? Four secondary sources required. Option 3 You may choose any of the films or literary works we have covered this semester (The Tragedy of King Christophe, Before Night Falls, Life & Debt) and write a critical analysis of it from any angle. Four secondary sources required. Option 4 Pick a recent (falling within the last 10 years) issue in a Caribbean paper and explore its historical roots and contemporary social, economic, and political causes and consequences. Eight secondary sources required. Option 5 Length: 10 -15 pages* In a creative project of any format (prose, poetry, visual, performative, etc.) you must explore either specific themes in the work we have covered, the social or political history of the work and/or the theory behind the production of the text(s). The creative work or project should be preceded by a single paragraph which summarizes the "plot" of what follows and makes your own argument for creative response. *You will need to seek approval from me before choosing this option and depending on the project, it will have to be delivered/performed/presented in class on a specified date. Four secondary sources required.

Note: Papers are due at the start of the class and will be considered late otherwise. There will be a full grade reduction for each class period that your paper is late after the due date. Papers will not be accepted via email. You will be evaluated on the following:


Originality of Argument How well you introduce the topic and state the specific problem/claim/question that the paper will address Evidence: you will be evaluated on the inclusion of evidence both for and against your argument, its appropriateness, adequate discussion Development or consistency of Argument Organization Coherence Evidence of reading comprehension and critical depth Spelling, grammar, internal citation, bibliography

Readings All readings are to be completed for discussion on the day in which they are listed on the syllabus. You are also required to bring the texts to class. You should look up any terms that you do not understand and keep notes of your readings. How closely you read will be a key factor in class discussion. Students will be called upon at any time to share their thoughts about the readings and are expected to actively engage in discussion. Participation - Discussion Discussion, as a form of "collaborative learning," is a core teaching method for this class. Discussion will be generated in a number of ways including; student query, discussion questions, and instructor guidance. You will be evaluated on the consistency of your contributions and your engagement in dialogue. More than two absences will trigger a full half-grade reduction of your overall course grade. Four or more absences will result in an automatic F for the course. AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA) POLICY STATEMENT: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal antidiscrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring accommodation, please contact the Department of Student Life, Services for Students with Disabilities in Room 118B of Cain Hall, or call 845-1637. ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: The Aggie Code of Honor states that ­ Aggies do not lie, cheat, or steal, nor do they tolerate those who do. Please familiarize yourself with the booklet entitled Student Rules, Part I, Section 20, "Scholastic Dishonesty," which offers a clear, concise explanation of what constitutes plagiarism (it also discusses other violations of academic integrity). Possession of this syllabus means that you understand that you are required to comply with Texas A&M University's policies on this manner. For more information, please see: For more specific rules and guidelines about what constitutes plagiarism, see me as well.


Course Schedule Inventing the Caribbean Week 1 Jan. 15 Jan. 17 Introduction Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. "The Power in the Story." Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. 1-30. `The Pope Must Have Been Drunk' Hulme, Peter. "Caribs and Arawaks." Colonial Encounters: Europe and the native Caribbean, 1492-1797. 45-87. . *Forte, Maximilian. "Extinction: the historical trope of anti-indigeneity in the Caribbean." Issues in Caribbean Amerindian Studies. VI.4. 2005. Research Supplement: Leon-Portilla, Miguel. The Broken Spears: the Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico. Chps. 1, 6, 7, 13, 14. Week 3 Jan. 29 Discovery and Columbian Humanism Columbus, Christopher. "The first Voyage of Columbus," The Four Voyages of Columbus: a History in Eight Documents, Including Five by Christopher Columbus, in the Original Spanish, with English Translations. 2-12. Las Casas, Bartolomé de. The Devastation of the Indies: A Brief Account. 27-35, 5968. Benítez-Rojo, Antonio. "Bartolomé de las Casas: Between Fiction and the Inferno." The Repeating Island: the Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective. 85111. Research Supplement: Columbus. The Log of Christopher Columbus. Trans. Fuson. 75-80, 84-85. Knight, Franklin. "Settlements and Colonies." The Caribbean: Genesis of a Fragmented Nationalism. 27-38. Pagden, Anthony. "The Theory of Natural Slavery." The fall of Natural Man: the American Indian and the Origins of Comparative ethnology. 27-55.

Week 2 Jan. 22

Jan. 24


Jan. 31

*Wynter, Sylvia. "Columbus and the Poetics of the Propter Nos." Annals of Scholarship. 251-286. Capitalism, Slavery, and the Modern World System Russell-Wood, A.J.R. "Before Columbus: Portugal's African Prelude to the Middle Passage and Contribution to Discourse on Race and Slavery." Race, Discourse, and the Origin of the Americas: A New World View. 134-168. Williams, Eric. Capitalism and Slavery, Chps. 1, 2, 5. New Slaves and the World the Plantation Made Williams, Eric. Capitalism and Slavery, Chps. 7, 8, 9. Knight. "Social Structure of the Plantation Society." The Caribbean. 120-158. Research Supplement: Benítez-Rojo. "From the Plantation to the Plantation." The Repeating Island.3384. Goveia, Elsa. "The Social Framework." Savacou: A Journal of the Caribbean Artists Movement. 7-15. Lowenthal, David. "East Indians and Creoles." West Indian Societies. 144-177. Resistance

Week 4 Feb. 5

Feb. 7 Week 5 Feb. 12 Feb. 14

Week 6 Feb. 19 Feb. 21

Resisting as Caliban James, C.L.R. The Black Jacobins: Touissant L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution., "Preface to the first Edition" & Chps. 1, 2. James, C.L.R.. The Black Jacobins: Touissant L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution., "Preface to the first Edition" & Chps. 4, 5. Research Supplement: Lamming, George. "Caliban orders History." The Pleasures of Exile. Williams. "The Abolition of the Caribbean Slave System." From Columbus to Castro: the History of the Caribbean 1492-1969. 280-327.

Week 7

The Gender of Freedom


Feb. 26

Beckles, Hilary. "Centering Woman: the Political Economy of Gender in West African and Caribbean Slavery." Caribbean Portraits: Essays on Gender Ideologies and Identities. 93-114. Research Supplement: Wynter. "Beyond Miranda's meanings: Unsilencing the Demonic Ground of Caliban's Woman." The Black Feminist Reader. 87-127.

Feb. 28 Week 8 Mar. 4

MIDTERM EXAM The Color and Caste of Freedom or `Old' World Others *Shepherd, Verene. A. "`Coolitude': the Diasporic Indian's Response to Creolization, Negritude and the Ranking Game." Cultural Identity and Creolization in National Unity: the Multiethnic Caribbean. Ed. Prem Misir. Lanham: University Press of America, 2006. 33-40. *Mohammed, Patricia. "The `Creolization' of Indian Women in Trinidad." Ibid. 41-58.

Mar. 6

TBA Research Supplement: Info. on the Irish in the Caribbean:

SPRING BREAK MARCH 10-14 Week 9 Mar. 18 Mar. 20 Césaire, Aimé. Discourse on Colonialism. 31-53. Césaire. Discourse on Colonialism. 54-78. Research Supplement: Fanon, Frantz. "The Pitfalls of National Consciousness." The Wretched of the Earth. 148-205.

Independence & Underdevelopment


Week 10 Mar. 25 Mar. 27

Dis/inheriting the colonial state Césaire. The Tragedy of King Christophe, Act I Césaire. The Tragedy of King Christophe, Act II Research Supplement: Louis XIV. Le Code Noir Patterson, Orlando. Freedom: Freedom in the making of Western Culture. Vol. I. New York, Basic Books, 991.

Week 11 Apr. 1 Césaire. The Tragedy of King Christophe, Act III Research Supplement: James. "The Bourgeoisie Prepares to Restore Slavery." The Black Jacobins. 269 288. Apr. 3 DUE: SHORT PAPER Screening: Black, Stephanie, dir. Life and Debt. New York, NY: New Yorker Video, 2003, [c2001.] A Tuff Gong Pictures Production. Evans Library Annex. Redrawing the Line Discussion: Life and Debt. *Fernandez, Nadine. "Back to the Future? Women, Race, and Tourism in Cuba." Sun, Sex, and Gold: Tourism and Sex Work in the Caribbean. Ed. Kemala Kempadoo. 81-89 Research Supplement: Kempadoo, Kamala. "Sex, Work, Gifts, and Money: Prostitution and Other Sexual-Economic Transactions." Sexing the Caribbean: Gender, Race, and Sexual Labor. 53-85. Apr. 10 Screening: Schnabel, Julian, dir. Before Night Falls. 2000. El Mar Pictures. Evans Library Annex. Revolution? Guest Lecture: Karina L. Cespedes Discussion: Before Night Falls

Week 12 Apr. 8

Week 13 Apr. 15


Landau, Saul. "Asking the Right Questions about Cuba." The Cuba Reader: the Making of a Revolutionary Society. Xvii-xxxiii "Program Manifesto of the 26th of July Movement (November 1956)." Ibid. 3541. Trans. Bonachea and Valdés. April. 17 *David Rudder (music) *Linton Kwesi Johnson (music) *Basquiat, Jean Michel. "50 cent piece." Daros Suite. (painting) Week 14 Apr. 22 *Wynter, Sylvia. "The Pope Must Have Been Drunk, The King of Castile a Madman: Culture as Actuality, and the Caribbean Rethinking Modernity." The reordering of Culture: Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada. 17-42 LAST CLASS

Apr. 24 Week 15 Apr. 29 May 2





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