Introduction to Caribbean Literature

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
26 April 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA Q300 English Literature,
BA Q303 English Literature (Including Placement Year),
BA Q320 English Literature (Including Foundation Year),
BA Q321 English Literature (Including Year Abroad),
BA Q210 English and Comparative Literature,
BA Q211 English and Comparative Literature (Including Year Abroad),
BA Q212 English and Comparative Literature (Including Placement Year),
BA Q218 English and Comparative Literature (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

The Caribbean was the first point of contact through which Columbus was to find a gateway to the Americas and the site of the only successful slave revolt which precipitated the end of slavery. It is now a multilingual and multicultural area made up of former plantation societies where European, African, Asian and indigenous traditions have intermixed, giving rise to an exceptionally vibrant and diversified culture. It is no surprise, therefore that the extended Caribbean has already generated five Nobel Prize winners for literature and keeps producing numerous first-rate writers, artists, and theorists, some based in the region, some living and working in the UK, Europe, Canada and the US.

Focusing on twentieth and twenty-first century texts, this module explores major poetic, fictional, non-fictional, and dramatic works alongside seminal films and documentaries. Introduction to Caribbean Literature fosters a broader and deeper understanding of the literatures and cultures of the Americas, of past and recent transatlantic exchanges, and of the experiences of people of Caribbean descent living in the United States and in the United Kingdom (we will be paying particular attention to the lives and experiences of members of the so-called 'Windrush generation' and their descendants). A close reading of primary texts will be at the centre of our method as we will investigate crucial issues such as the relationship between history, memory, and imagination; the ways in which authors, characters, and texts resist and respond to violence and discrimination; the relationship between routes and roots; migration and the formation of identity; the question of language; the urge to rewrite canonical texts.

This module is a logical extension of Professor Maria Cristina Fumagalli's interest in Caribbean literatures which she approaches in a comparative way. Maria Cristina is the author of three monographs on Caribbean studies: the first one, The Flight of the Vernacular: Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, and the Impress of Dante, analyses Derek Walcott's and Seamus Heaney's conversation with Dante paying particular attention to their use of language; the second one, Caribbean Perspectives on Modernity: Returning Medusa's Gaze (2009) reconfigures our understanding of modernity by approaching the issue from a Caribbean perspective; the third monograph, On the Edge: Writing the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic (2015) is a literary and cultural history which has the politics of borderline-crossing and the poetics of borderland-dwelling at its core and which also brings to the fore the experience of Dominican and Haitian writers who currently live and work in the United States (like, for example Edwidge Danticat who appears in this module).

Maria Cristina is also the editor of an issue of Agenda entirely devoted to Derek Walcott and the co-editor of two collections of essays which focus on gender and sexuality in the Caribbean (in particular on the figure of the 'cross-dresser') and engage with the idea of a literary geography of the 'American Tropics', an area that includes the Southern USA, the Atlantic littoral of Central America, the Caribbean islands and northern South America. Maria Cristina has just completed a new monograph entitled Derek Walcott's Painters which was supported by a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship.

Module Content Note: texts under discussion may contain references to: homophobia; miscarriage/abortion/death and/or abandonment of children; poor mental health; racism and xenophobia; rape and/or sexual assault; self-harm and suicide; slavery, colonialism and physical violence. Please contact the module supervisor if you have any questions.

Module aims

This module aims to foster students' critical thinking by inviting them to investigate Caribbean literature(s) and films from a broader perspective. It will enable students to:

1. Become acquainted with the vibrant and diverse literary and filmic production in the Caribbean and understand Transatlantic cultural connections and key postcolonial issues
2. Become acquainted with the works of writers and director of Caribbean descent operating in the UK and the US and understand the role that these works are playing in shaping the host culture, paying particular attention to the experiences of the members of the Windrush generation and their descendants in the UK.
3. Acquire a broader and deeper understanding of ‘American’ literature as a whole.

Module learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete the module will be able to demonstrate a broad knowledge of:

1. Major issues and themes in Caribbean literature, film, and culture
2. Major twenty- and twenty-first- century texts (novels, films, documentaries, plays etc) dealing with the lives and experiences of people of Caribbean descent in the UK (in particular, the experiences of the members of the Windrush generation and their descendants) and in the US.
3. Major issues, critical debates, and theoretical frameworks of American, Transatlantic and postcolonial literatures and cultures.

Module information

Fulfilment of requirements in a Humanities-based course at First Year (NQF 4) level is strongly recommended.

Alea, Tomas Gutierrez (dir). The Last Supper (1976).
Antoni, Robert. (2013) As Flies to Whatless Boys, New York: Akashic Books,U.S.
Danticat, Edwidge. (2013) Claire of the Sea Light, London: Quercus.
Henzell, Perry (dir).The Harder They Come (1972).
Joseph, Yasmin. (2019) J'ouvert, London: Oberon Books.
Levy, Andrea. (2005) Small Island, London: Tinder.
McQueen, Steve (dir). (2020) Education, Small Axe, BBC1.
McQueen, Steve (dir). (2020) Mangrove, Small Axe, BBC1.
Phillips, Caryl. (1980) Strange Fruit, London: Oberon Books.
Rhys, Jean. (1966) Wide Sargasso Sea, London: Penguin.
Walcott, Derek. 'The Schooner Flight' (1979). In: The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013 pp. 237-252, London: Faber and Faber.

Learning and teaching methods

Anticipated teaching delivery: Weekly 2-hour seminar


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Essay (2,500 Words)    70% 
Coursework   Online Portfolio    25% 
Practical   Participation    5% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Maria Fumagalli, email:
Professor Maria Cristina Fumagalli
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Dr Doug Haynes
University of Sussex
Reader in American Literature and Visual Culture
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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