Introduction to Caribbean Literature

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 06 October 2022
Friday 16 December 2022
26 April 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for


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.

More recently, Caribbean people have migrated and are still migrating to Europe, Canada and the US: these new points of contact have created opportunities for reshaping both Caribbean culture and the host culture. The extended Caribbean has generated five Nobel Prize winners for literature and has also produced and is still producing a remarkable number of first-rate writers, artists and theorists, some of whom will be studied in this module.

Focusing on twentieth and twenty-first century texts, this module explores major poetic, fictional, non-fictional, and dramatic works from the region, fostering a broader and deeper understanding of the literatures and cultures of the Americas and of past and recent transatlantic exchanges. 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 relationship between routes and roots; migration and the formation of identity; the ways in which authors, characters, and texts resist and respond to violence and discrimination; 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 or Junot Díaz.

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 provide a supporting learning environment for:

1) understanding Caribbean literatures and relations between European, North American and Caribbean literatures;
2) understanding Transatlantic cultural connections, key postcolonial issues and acquiring a broader and deeper understanding of American literature as a whole
3) enhancing research skills, analytical and self-expression skills through research, writing and oral communication.

Module learning outcomes

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

1) major issues and themes of Caribbean literature and culture
2) major issues, critical debates, 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.

Learning and teaching methods

Anticipated teaching delivery: Weekly 2-hour online 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   Online Portfolio (REASSESSMENT WITHOUT ATTENDANCE)  28/03/2023  15% 
Coursework   Essay (2,500 Words) (REASSESSMENT WITHOUT ATTENDANCE)  04/04/2023  80% 
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

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