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Unsovereign Elements, Caribbean Poetics

CHUM 391
Spring 2022
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: ENGL 391, AMST 381, AFAM 391
Course Cluster and Certificates: Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Certificate

This course aims to study and question sovereignty, begin to theorize "unsovereignty," and stake out what may be meant by "anticolonial imagination" in literary and other aesthetic forms, as well in the theories of history that it arranges under its name, "Unsovereign, Caribbean." Unsovereignty and the anticolonial will not be imagined as exact and liberated opposites of sovereignty and colonialism, but rather as epistemically and linguistically entangled therewith, and inviting further thought from Afro-Caribbean historical and deconstructive vantages. By reading richly symptomatic, primary, historical documents about race, geography, and slavery in San Domingue/Santo Domingo, as well as contemporary fiction, art, and criticism that re-narrate and theorize Caribbean history, we will focus on the historical frame of ~1492 into the 19th century. This frame holds with specific reference to Sara E. Johnson's notion of a foundational "state of war" against black people in the Americas and Frank B. Wilderson III's notion of when the "gratuitous violence" of the Middle Ages begins "to mark the Black ontologically." The 19th century will be studied comparatively, and not as the era of heralded "emancipation," but of abduction, re-enslavement, "travestied freedom" (Hartman), anti-emancipation (Eller), and white psychosis. We will read sometimes for imperial notions of sovereignty, force, race, property, and labor, and other times for Caribbean notions and narratives that are sometimes at war with and sometimes in bed with said imperial schema and this episteme. In the face of some contemporary critical theoretical tendencies to use terms like "fugitivity," "resistance," "freedom," "abolition," "the commons," etc., as ones that are equally at stake for all, or that signify one shared known, fixed, and agreed-upon meaning, we will, rather (and especially), attend to the historical specificity and signifying work of marronage in the Caribbean region and the complex tropology of unsovereignty and "unruliness" in the Caribbean. Conceptually, the course thinks from and about Caribbean studies, Black critical theory, Black studies, Enlightenment thought, and Deconstruction. Students who want to nerd-out on critical theory, history, and Caribbean aesthetics are encouraged to apply.

We will study digitized versions of imperial naval and commercial maps held at the John Carter Brown Library, Archivo de Indias, and in other archives, as well as primary texts of different genres (e.g., pilotes, ledgers, letters, legal documents), including the writing and thinking of Christopher Columbus, Moreau de Saint Mery, Baudry des Lozieres, María de las Mercedes Santa Cruz, Immanuel Kant, and G.W.F. Hegel. We will also read selections from some of the following scholars, artists, writers: Colin Dayan, Sara E. Johnson, Evelynne Trouillot, Jacques Derrida, Robin Derby, Maryse Conde, Alejo Carpentier, Demetrius Eudell, Anne Eller, Dixa Ramírez D'Oleo, Ronald Mendoza de Jesús, Frank Wilderson III, Walter Benjamin, Gayatri Spivak, Aimé Césaire, Beatriz Santiago Munoz, Joiri Minaya, Jean Rhys, and others.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA CHUM
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode:
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (AFAM-MN)(AFAM)(AMST)(CBST-MN)(ENGL)
Past Enrollment Probability: Not Available

Last Updated on JUN-15-2024
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