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Caribbean Studies at Wesleyan

The site of Columbus’s first landing and the hemisphere’s first Iberian settlement, what we now call the Caribbean is temporally, geographically, and historically at the center of the Americas.  Colonized by Spain, France, England, the Netherlands, and Denmark, populated by streams of labor from Africa and Asia, the Caribbean has extraordinary diversity in its people, languages, and cultures.  It is a microcosm of a contemporary global problematic:  indigenous and diasporic communities negotiating their current status as polities while preserving individual pasts and identities

Caribbean Studies is not a major at Wesleyan, but rather a group of courses focused upon aspects of this region.  It draws upon faculty and curricula from many departments and programs at Wesleyan:  American Studies, Latin American Studies, African American Studies, the College of Letters, Anthropology, Religious Studies, and Music among them.  It is by its diverse nature constituted as always multidisciplinary.  Thus, the student interested in this study has the freedom to range widely within the Wesleyan curriculum while majoring in a specific discipline. 

Some examples of courses offered are: 

Nomadic Islanders: Contemporary Caribbean Diasporas and Identities

20th-Century Franco-Caribbean Literature and the Search for Identity

The Caribbean Epic

Caribbean Literature

Post-Quake Haiti: Myths and Realities

Introduction to the Culture and Politics of the Caribbean

African Presences II: Music in the Americas

Tropical Ecology and the Environment

 

In addition, the student will find other courses, in Latin American Studies or Religious Studies, for example, that include the Caribbean in their study without focusing exclusively on it.

 

The Americas Forum 2013 commemorates the centenary of Aimé Césaire (June 26, 1913-April 17, 2008), éminence grise of the Francophone Caribbean.  More than a merely regional figure, he is also a global presence in the second half of the twentieth century as intellectual, artist, politician, and moral center.  His influence is felt in many disciplines:  poetry, the stage, the development of a racial consciousness and a politics both moral and pragmatic.  His life spans the 20th century, and in many ways exemplifies it:  from the artistic and psychological Modernist movement known as Surrealism, to the movement called Negritude, from mastery of French culture and language to decolonization and a spiritual/cultural pan-africanism.  The 2013 Forum, held on the 100th anniversary of the year of his birth, is both a celebration of Césaire’s life and his continuing influence on the arts, and an intellectual consideration of his profound contributions to our understanding of the Americas, of Marxism, of imperialism and independence, of race and racism, of the role of art as political and ethical agent.

The Forum brings together prominent scholars in the fields of Caribbean Studies, French literature and poetics, Césaire studies, American Studies, and African diaspora studies.  In addition, musicians, poets, and performers will present their own and Césaire’s work.  The 2013 Americas Forum organizers are Wesleyan's Indira Karamcheti, Director, Center for the Americas and Associate Professor of American Studies; Typhaine Leservot, Associate Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and the College of Letters; and Suzanna Tamminen, Director and Editor in Chief, Wesleyan University Press.

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