Caribbean Literary and Visual Cultures: Work and “Wuk”

Winter 2018-2019


Kaneesha Parsard

While tourist boards and hotel companies promote the Caribbean as a paradise of “sun, sex, and gold,” what lies beyond this imaginary? This seminar explores literature and visual arts in the English-speaking Caribbean through the lenses of labor and gender and sexuality. In “Work and ‘Wuk’,” we will begin by examining narratives written by enslaved African women in the Caribbean such as The History of Mary Prince (1831). Then, we will turn to short stories, mixed-media works, and other literary and visual works by Caribbean women and gender and sexual minorities that represent major historical events: labor migration from Asia to the Caribbean, working-class movements, decolonization, and migration of Caribbean peoples to North America and Great Britain. Throughout, we will gain an understanding of how Caribbean writers and artists have developed homegrown ways of seeing the region. Readings include works by Patricia Powell, Michelle Cliff, Jamaica Kincaid, Jean Rhys, and Ramabai Espinet, and criticism by Sylvia Wynter, Saidiya Hartman, and Selma James. (Fiction, Theory)