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Title: Topographies of Time: The Spatiohistorical Imagination in Caribbean Narrative
Authors: Decker, Robert William
Advisors: Nesbitt, Nick
Benhaïm, André
Contributors: French and Italian Department
Keywords: Caribbean
Subjects: French literature
Caribbean literature
Caribbean studies
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Topographies of Time: The Spatiohistorical Imagination in Caribbean Narrative addresses the inscription of the concepts of space and time in historical narratives of the francophone Caribbean. Spatiotemporal thought plays a fundamental role in the politics, aesthetics, and epistemological premises of Caribbean letters and manifests in the latent tension between universality and particularity, concepts that motivate and orient this literature from before the rise of Negritude in the 1930s up to the present day. Close attention to this conceptual history demonstrates that the dominant understanding of Antillean literary history in the twentieth century, which can be summarized as a shift from the anticolonial concept of Negritude to that of the postcolonial concept of créolité, obfuscates a more intricate and dynamic history. Part one, “The Caribbean Stage of Universal History,” examines the historical narratives of two Caribbean historians, C. L. R. James and Léonard Sainville. These authors work within a model of universal history to position the Caribbean as the central stage on which a globalizing modernity develops. In part two, “Emplacing History: from the Discontinuities of Time to the Poetics of Place,” I consider two novels by Édouard Glissant and Vincent Placoly that exemplify the transition, in the 1960s through the 1990s, towards a theoretical and narratological engagement with the concept of particularity. They turn away from the universalizing rhetoric of Pan-Africanism and look toward the geographic and cultural specificity of their native Martinique. The final part, “Antilleans Abroad: The Caribbean Author in a Postcolonial World,” offers a reading of two Haitian authors, Edwidge Danticat and Dany Laferrière. In addition to negotiating the perils and problematics of migration itself, Laferrière and Danticat must contend with the expectations of the transnational and postcolonial literary marketplace, one which exerts specific pressures on the writers it encompasses. This focus on individual experience (including that of the transnational author) results in a return to the linear narratival forms of the first phase of universality. This dissertation challenges the boundaries between theoretical and historicist approaches to literature and proposes an alternative to the common dualistic framework in francophone studies between the colonial and postcolonial.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:French and Italian

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