Literature and Cultural Identity: Contemporary Caribbean Writing

Module code: EN7139

Module co-ordinator: Dr Lucy Evans

In this module we will explore a range of late-twentieth-century texts by writers from different islands within the Anglophone Caribbean region (Trinidad, Jamaica, Antigua, and St Lucia). The archipelago's traumatic history of colonialism and transatlantic slavery has generated culturally diverse societies, and this is reflected in Caribbean literary writing. We will read novels, poetry, and short stories, paying particular attention to formal and linguistic innovations. We'll also look at the various ways in which each writer negotiates multiple cultural traditions – European, African, East Indian – in order to forge a unique and distinctive mode of writing. The module addresses key concerns in the study of postcolonial literatures in English. Discussions will cover cultural identity, colonialism and its legacies, literary and popular influences, and the articulation of anti-colonial nationalisms and how this intersects with a broader regional or diasporic consciousness. There will be an emphasis on the relationship between aesthetics and politics as we consider questions of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality. Alongside textual analysis, we will engage with critical and theoretical debates surrounding Caribbean literary and cultural production.

Set texts are likely to include:

  • Earl Lovelace, The Dragon Can’t Dance (1979)
  • Derek Walcott, Omeros (1990)
  • Olive Senior, Summer Lightning and Other Stories (1986)
  • Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John (1983)
  • Shani Mootoo, Cereus Blooms at Night (1996)


  • One 4,000-word essay