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Caribbean Perspectives on Modernity

Returning Medusa's Gaze

Maria Cristina Fumagalli

Publication Year: 2009

Maria Fumagalli argues that, like Medusa's stare that turns people to stone, the gaze of the North Atlantic freezes its "others" into a state of perpetual backwardness, ignoring what does not conform to the story it wants to tell about itself. Across a diversity of texts, genres, and media, she shows how the Caribbean articulates its refusal to succumb to Medusa's spell.

Published by: University of Virginia Press

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

It is impossible to be comprehensive: so many people have contributed to this book. First of all, I wish to thank all my colleagues and friends who have been extremely supportive throughout the process of writing and thinking about this book: in particular, Joan Anim- Addo, Jeff Geiger, John Haynes, Bénédicte Ledent, Karin Littau, David ...

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Introduction: Breaking Medusa's Spell

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pp. 1-14

One of the most feared monsters of antiquity is Medusa, the deity with snakes instead of hair and a gaze that could transform people into stone. Medusa’s myth is expedient for describing how modernity creates its “others”: in order to legitimize itself, it petrifies those who stand before it, freezing them into a state of what she calls perpetual backwardness, ...

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1 Abreast with History: Stradanus's America and Grace Nichols's Fat Black Woman

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pp. 15-31

I would like to begin my incursion into Caribbean literature with what can perhaps be viewed as a reversal of conventional practices. In this chapter I will employ contemporary Caribbean poetry as a springboard to critically investigate past and current theoretical discourses. More specifically, I will illustrate how the work of the Anglo-Guyanese ...

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2 What It Means to Be Modern: M. P. Shiel's The Purple Cloud

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pp. 32-52

In 1901 the little-known West Indian writer M. P. Shiel published The Purple Cloud, a scientific romance that gives us a unique insight in a sustained critique of North Atlantic modernity formulated more than one hundred years ago from a Caribbean perspective. Usefully, ...

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3 Scapegoating the Mulattos: Maryse Condé's La Migration des coeurs

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pp. 53-72

In one of her autobiographical stories, the Guadeloupean writer Maryse Condé recounts a strange meeting she had with a little white girl in the 1950s whose name was Anne-Marie de Surville and who addressed her in Creole. Anne-Marie invited Maryse to play with her, but at the same time she warned her that they had to be careful because her ...

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4 Before and after Ovid: Metamorphosis in Marlene Nourbese Philip and Gabriel García Márquez

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pp. 73-86

One day while Proserpina was gathering flowers, Pluto kidnapped her and brought her down to the kingdom of death while she desperately called to her mother, Ceres, for protection. The nymph Cyane tried to stop Pluto but, humiliated and full of sorrow for the rape of the goddess and her inability to prevent it, she finally dissolved into the ...

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5 Romances That Matter: Lady Mary Wroth's The Countesse of Montgomerie Urania and Erna Brodber's Jane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home

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pp. 87-104

In García Márquez’s “The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother,” as we have seen, young Eréndira’s emancipation depends primarily on her ability to steer away from past templates. Significantly, the name of Eréndira’s ancestors ...

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6 Brushing History against the Grain: Derek Walcott's Tiepolo's Hound

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pp. 105-134

“Forget the gods . . . and read the rest”: this is the advice that Homer gives to the Caribbean poet Derek Walcott in Omeros, a long epic poem that has St. Lucian fishermen as its focus.1 We are implicitly invited to adopt a similar strategy when looking at the Treppenhaus ...

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Conclusion: The Power of Interpellation

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pp. 135-138

This monograph is concerned with how modernity is and has been conceived, lived, and negotiated in the Caribbean and focuses on narratives of modernity from, about, or derived from the encounter with it. The works in question are very diverse in terms of media, genre, and provenance: sixteenth-century engravings and paintings from the ...

Notes

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pp. 139-174

Bibliography

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pp. 175-190

Index

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pp. 191-198


E-ISBN-13: 9780813929996
E-ISBN-10: 0813929997
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813928579
Print-ISBN-10: 0813928575

Page Count: 216
Illustrations: 13 halftones (13 redacted)
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: New World Studies
Series Editor Byline: J. Michael Dash

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Subject Headings

  • Danticat, Edwidge, ǂd 1969- ǂx Criticism and interpretation ǂv Handbooks, manuals, etc.
  • Modernism (Literature) -- Caribbean Area.
  • Caribbean literature (English) -- History and criticism.
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