The Preliminary PhD Reading List: Hard Times Ahead (or, Yay Caribbean Literature)

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If you didn’t know, I’ve been hard at work putting together my committee and reading list for my PhD exams, which I intend to take in March or April of next year.  The list will likely change in the next few weeks, given feedback from my director, but I thought you’d all like to see what I’m up to academically.

For those that don’t know, I am writing my PhD on the relationship between the Caribbean and the space of Empire (spatiality).  In particular, my work will be an attempt to conceptualize how Empire is spatially constructed and how such constructions are reflected in the literature and resisted/manipulated/etc. by Caribbean peoples/characters/authors/etc.  The idea is to (hopefully) mold together my work on Hopkinson and Buckell for the MA into a larger project on Caribbean literature.
With that in mind, here is the list I’ve so far constructed.  Feel free to offer suggestions of your own, as this reading list is only for my exams and not necessarily for my final project.
Here goes:

(Early Period)
The English in the West Indies, Or, the Bow of Ulysses by James Anthony
Wonderful Adventures
of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands
by Mary Seacole
Rupert Gray, a Study
in Black and White
by Stephen N. Cobham
(Modern and Mid-20th Century)
Emmanuel Appadocca by
Michel Maxwell Philip
Minty Alley by C.
L. R. James
A Morning at the
by Edgar Mittelholzer
Wide Sargasso
by Jean Rhys
The Enigma of Arrival by
V. S. Naipaul
Frangipani House by
Beryl Gilroy
Cambridge by Caryl Phillips
A Map to the Door of
No Return:  Notes to Belonging
Dianne Brand
(Genre and Related Contemporary)
Crystal Rain by
Tobias S. Buckell
Ragamuffin by
Tobias S. Buckell
Sly Mongoose by
Tobias S. Buckell (note:  there is a fourth
book coming out in this series, which I may add to this list at a later time)
Midnight Robber by
Nalo Hopkinson
Redemption in Indigo by
Karen Lord

Theory, History,
(Spatial Theory)
The Production of
by Henri Lefebvre
The Urban Experience by
David Harvey
The Road to Botany Bay:  An
Essay in Spatial History
by Paul Carter
The Archaeologies of
the Future
by Fredric Jameson
The Poetics of Space by
Gaston Bachelard
(Caribbean History, Postcolonial
Theory, etc.)
Writing in Limbo by
Simon Gikandi
Poetics of Relation by
Edouard Glissant
The Repeating
Island:  the Caribbean
and the Postmodern Perspective
by Rojo Antonio Benitez
The Pleasures of Exile
by George Lamming
The British Caribbean:  From
the Decline of Colonialism to the End of Federation
by Elisabeth Wallace

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

One thought on “The Preliminary PhD Reading List: Hard Times Ahead (or, Yay Caribbean Literature)

  1. Depending on how you interpret "The Caribbean," there are a lot of Spanish and French-language writers that cover some of the themes you seem to be striking at (for purposes of my suggestion for consultation materials, I'm going to add Colombia):

    Alejo Carpentier (Cuban) – there are several works of his that dance around the issue of empire, but I think his The Lost Steps is a good place to start, along with Baroque Concert.

    Julia Alvarez (Dominican) – In the Time of the Butterflies deals with the Trujillo dictatorship of the mid-20th century.

    José Martí (Cuban) – so much of his late 19th century writing, both poetry and prose alike, is applicable here. I believe most of it has been translated into English in recent years. He's akin to the spiritual Father of the Cuban Revolution of the 1880s-1898.

    Giannina Braschi (Puerto Rican) – Her writings, whether they are in Spanish, Spanglish, or English or if they are prose or poetry, deal with the complex relationships of Puerto Ricans with the US (and by extension, Latin Americans with the US).

    Guillermo Cabrera Infante (Cuban) – A View of Dawn in the Tropics is one of several works, fiction and non-fiction alike, that he's written that touches upon some of the core issues.

    Gabriel García Márquez (Colombian) – OHYS alone would make for a good reference point, particularly the second half with the United Banana Company scenes. Autumn of the Patriarch is another applicable one.

    And if you include, as some occasionally do, Nicaragua in with the Caribbean, you will have two of the greatest Latin American poets of the 20th century, Rubén Darío and Ernesto Cardenal, to reference. Darío's poem on Teddy Roosevelt alone is worth noting, but there are several others of equal prowess and biting commentary on American imperialism.

    Sadly, I'm almost completely ignorant of Haitian literature, despite being able to speak a little bit of the language.

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