Continental Crossings: Caribbean and US Literature and Culture

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
09 May 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

In political science and international relations the Caribbean is often referred to as 'America's backyard' - a disparaging definition which arrogantly conflates the United States with the entire continent and insists on the fact that the United States 'own' the Caribbean. On the other hand, the St Lucia born Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott describes the United States as an 'aggressive democracy' and a 'dictatorship of mediocrity' where 'all are forced to be equal'.

One of the characters of Haitian origin who are featured in the work of the African-Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat, describes the experience of finally obtaining a passport and North American citizenship as 'standing in a firing line and finally getting a bulletproof vest'. This module aims at looking at the ways in which writers from the United States imagine and represent the Caribbean and/or how writers from the Caribbean and the Caribbean diaspora imagine and represent the United States.

Students will be able to deepen their knowledge of American literature by becoming acquainted with major poetic, fictional, non-fictional and dramatic works which will be put in dialogue with one another in order to delineate the broader context in which these texts can be better understood.

A close reading of primary texts will be at the centre of our method as we will investigate crucial issues such as the difference between reality and the 'American Dream', what it means to be from the Americas, nationalism and transnationalism, the function of memory and imagination, migration and the formation of identity, the diasporic nature of blackness in the United States, and the question of language.

Module aims

This module aims to foster students' critical thinking by inviting them to investigate American literatures from a broader perspective. It will enable students to become acquainted with the vibrant and diverse literature originating from the specific context of U.S.-Caribbean relations and to rethink the 'American' paradigm from a broader perspective.

Module learning outcomes

After completion of the module students should be able to display a detailed knowledge of major twenty- and twenty-first- century texts about and/or from the United States and the Caribbean.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be taught via weekly seminars of two hours each.


  • Marcano, Damian; Morgan, Paul; Bailey, Alexa S.; Muwakil, Muhammad; Phillips, Jamie-Lee; Waithe, Abdi. (©2015) God loves the fighter, [Wedel, Germany]: Mad Dimension.
  • Danticat, Edwidge. (c2010) Create dangerously: the immigrant artist at work, Princeton: Princeton University Press. vol. The Toni Morrison lecture series
  • Marshall, Paule. (2009) Brown girl, brownstones, Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications.
  • McKAY, Claude. (no date) Harlem Shadows: the poems of Claude McKay, Martino Fine Books, 2018.
  • McKay, Claude. (1987, ©1928) Home to Harlem, Boston: Northeastern University Press.
  • Algarín, Miguel; Holman, Bob. (c1994) Aloud: voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, New York: Holt.
  • John, Errol. (2012, c1958) Moon on a rainbow shawl, London: Faber and Faber.
  • Derek Walcott. (1974) 'The Caribbean: Culture or Mimicry?', in Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs: Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Miami. vol. 16 (1) , pp.3-13
  • Lovelace, Earl. (2003) A brief conversion and other stories, New York: Persea Books.
  • Hughes, Langston; Bontemps, Arna. (1949) The poetry of the Negro, 1746-1949, Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.
  • V. S. Naipaul. (2002) The Mystic Masseur & Miguel Street: Picador.
  • Kincaid, Jamaica. (c1990, 1991) Lucy, New York: Plume. vol. Plume contemporary fiction
  • Johnson, James Weldon. (2015) The autobiography of an ex-colored man: authoritative text, backgrounds and sources, criticism, New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay (5,000 words)    100% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Jak Peake, email:
Dr Jak Peake
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Dr Rebecca Katherine Tillett
The University of East Anglia
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 23 hours, 0 (0%) hours available to students:
23 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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