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Caribbean Literature and the Public Sphere

From the Plantation to the Postcolonial

Raphael Dalleo

Publication Year: 2011

Bringing together the most exciting recent archival work in anglophone, francophone, and hispanophone Caribbean studies, Raphael Dalleo constructs a new literary history of the region that is both comprehensive and innovative. He examines how changes in political, economic, and social structures have produced different sets of possibilities for writers to imagine their relationship to the institutions of the public sphere. In the process, he provides a new context for rereading such major writers as Mary Seacole, José Martí, Jacques Roumain, Claude McKay, Marie Chauvet, and George Lamming while also drawing lesser-known figures into the story. Dalleo’s comparative approach will be important to Caribbeanists from all of the region’s linguistic traditions, and his book contributes even more broadly to debates in Latin American and postcolonial studies about postmodernity and globalization.

Published by: University of Virginia Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xvi

Periodization is an activity fraught with pitfalls, and the Caribbean context—with its multiple histories and temporalities— presents special challenges. My introduction addresses specific concerns that arise in periodizing comparatively across national and linguistic...

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Introduction: Periodizing the Public Sphere

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pp. 1-18

The Caribbean poses multiple obstacles for literary history. Literary historians cannot seek the traditional unity of the nation in a region comprised of more than a dozen national units; language provides no more stable a ground, with literature from the Caribbean...

Part One: The Rise of the Caribbean Literary Public Sphere, 1804 to 1886

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pp. 19-20

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1. The Abolitionist Public Sphere and the Republic of the Lettered

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pp. 21-43

Writing from the period of plantation slavery displays a particular relationship to the public sphere. Within the Caribbean, the planter class monopoly on written discourse meant literature allowed to circulate locally was almost uniformly aligned with power. Oppositional...

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2. The Public Sphere Unbound: Michel Maxwell Philip, El laúd del desterrado, and Mary Seacole

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pp. 44-66

By the 1850s, slavery had formally ended in the English- and French-speaking Caribbean—in part because of the successes of the abolition movement in Europe but also because of increased physical resistance by enslaved people within the region—and abolitionism was...

Part Two: Modern Colonialism and the Anticolonial Public Sphere, 1886 to 1959

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pp. 67-68

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3. The Intellectual and the Man of Action: Resolving Literary Anxiety in the Work of José Martí, Stephen Cobham, and Jacques Roumain

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pp. 69-95

Modern colonialism, through its attempts to remove local power from the Caribbean, enabled writers throughout the region to see themselves speaking for a national public as well as part of a counter-public opposed to power. The modern colonial system’s attempts to remove...

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4. The Ideology of the Literary: Claude McKay’s Banana Bottom and the Little Magazines of the 1940s

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pp. 96-122

The previous chapter discussed how writers most frequently identified with anticolonialism, such as José Martí and Jacques Roumain, constructed a discursive project that overcame anxiety about writing as a private activity through emphasis on masculine action...

Part Three: Postcoloniality and the Crisis of the Literary Public Sphere, 1959 to 1983

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pp. 123-124

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5. The Expulsion from the Public Sphere: The Novels of Marie Chauvet

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pp. 125-151

During the modern colonial period, writers like José Martí and Claude McKay, as well as journal editors like Frank Collymore, Aimé Césaire, and Suzanne Césaire, made the case for the literary as a crucial quality in governing the nation. But the successes and failures of...

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6. Anticolonial Authority and the Postcolonial Occasion for Speaking: George Lamming and Martin Carter

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pp. 152-174

The dismantling of the colonial system and the emerging dominance of the postcolonial in the decades following World War II mark a major passage in Caribbean literary history. Chapter 5 described the dangers facing literary intellectuals as their alignment with a counterpublic...

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7. The Testimonial Impulse: Miguel Barnet and the Sistren Theatre Collective

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pp. 175-198

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, a new configuration of the Caribbean public sphere was beginning to be consolidated, and the literary field found itself being redefined. Chapters 7 and 8 explore two responses by Caribbean writers—the testimonial impulse and the turn to...

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8. Cultural Studies and the Commodified Public: Luis Rafael Sánchez’s La guaracha del Macho Camacho and Earl Lovelace’s The Dragon Can’t Dance

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pp. 199-224

Testimonio attempts to keep alive the anticolonial ideal of the intellectual as representing the public while remaining engaged in counterpublic critique in the face of the postcolonial crisis of that model. A prominent strain of postcolonial Caribbean literary criticism mirrors...

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Conclusion: The Postcolonial Public Sphere

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pp. 225-240

Caribbean Literature and the Public Sphere has explored three periods in Caribbean literary history. Chapters 1 and 2 looked at the decline of plantation slavery and rise of modern colonialism from 1804 to 1886; the key dates in this long regional passage go from...


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pp. 241-268

Works Cited

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pp. 269-288


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pp. 289-296

New World Studies

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E-ISBN-13: 9780813932026
E-ISBN-10: 0813932025
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813931982
Print-ISBN-10: 0813931983

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2011