New Literatures: The Caribbean



Publication Details

Bergold, T., Hicks, E., Sharrad, P. & Stein, M. (2011). New Literatures: The Caribbean. The Year's Work in English Studies, 90 980-994.


For different reasons, both 'New Literatures' and 'The Caribbean' are not self-evident terms; the 'New Literatures' are neither as new and historyless as the name suggests, nor do they, as is implied, rely on an older body of (British) texts to achieve definition. Likewise, tile regional approach taken in this section of YWES relies on a geographical logic that the Caribbean, in particular, does not sustain unproblematically. As Peter Hulme has suggested, the unstable signifier 'Caribbean' points to an 'Other America', the Glissantian term which Michael Niblett and Kerstin Oloff deploy in their collection Perspectives on the 'Other America': Comparative Approaches to Caribbean alld Latin American Clilture. In his essay contained therein, Hulme in fact does support a regional approach to Caribbean cultural production but argues for 'Expanding the Caribbean'; more specifically, he encourages comparative literary studies and area studies to engage with each other. He suggests we pay 'much less attention to propriety' (p. 43) and thus allow for consideration of early Caribbean texts, the voices of visitors born elsewllere, texts which are not easily categorized in terms of genre, and selected texts from bordering nation-states, such as Colombia and the USA. Advocating 'imaginative mass trespass over the established boundaries of literary history' (p. 45), Hulme is intent on expanding the Caribbean-not in an imperial sense, enlarging its territory at tIle expense of its neighbours, but by capitalizing on geographical, cultural, linguistic and historical overlaps.

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