FRLN 330:
French and Spanish Women Writers of the Caribbean:
Exile, Identity, and Alienation

Rei Berroa
Teaching Assistant: Alexía Vikis
  Summer 2001 Session, B01
T & R 16:30-19:10   West 263
Office:  215 E Thompson Hall
Hours: T&R 15:00-16:00
Tel: (703) 993-1241 
Fax: (703) 993-1245






This is a course for students interested in contemporary Caribbean literature, as well as in the social, political, historical, and cultural characteristics of the Caribbean archipelago. Throughout the course we will discover, analyze and compare different facets of the fascinating kaleidoscopic French and Spanish Antillean universe, mainly through a variety of works of fiction, essays, and drama by contemporary Francophone and Hispanophone women writers from the islands of Cuba, Guadeloupe, Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic and Haiti), Martinique and Puerto Rico.

Their writings reveal vital insights into the history, culture, social realities, and politics of their insular societies, and in some cases into the experiences of living abroad. They are opening windows into interior spaces that are relatively absent in male authors’ writings. Concurrently, they offer us different accounts of history, cultural and national identity, private and public spaces, as well as of ethnicity, religion, class, gender, sexuality, and the act of writing. And last, but not least, they ponder, explicitly and perspectively, on the important issue of the Caribbean identity dilemma, which, as we will realize, arises from the complex historical, cultural, geographic and linguistic specificities of the Caribbean region.

Every single work of these authors generates a rich array of insights and topics. Many are bound by common concerns, perceptions, and practices. To facilitate our discussions we will organize our required readings into the following major themes: orality; the act of writing; eroticism; marginalization, oppression and alienation; subversion; revision and demystification of history; immigration and exile; deconstruction and reconstruction of identity. However, this thematic classification will not prevent us from reflecting upon their representations of patriarchy, gender roles, race, class, and last but not least, their literary conventions. We will also consider the situation and the role of these Caribbean women writers within their islands and/or overseas, as well as their shared consciousness of being Antillean. In order to cover a more comprehensive view of our topics, we will relate our readings, as much as possible, to music, visual arts, films, documentaries, and Caribbean cuisine, among others.

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Behar, Ruth, ed. Bridges to Cuba/Puentes a Cuba. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan
        Press,1995.  (At the Bookstore)

Césaire, Ina.  "Island Memories: Mama N. and Mama F."  (1985).  Plays by French and
         Francophone Women: A Critical Anthology.  Christiane P. Makward and Judith G. Miller
         eds. and trans. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1994: 45-74.  (Martinique)
         (At the JC Copy Center)

Condé, Maryse. Land of Many Colors, and Nanna-ya. Trans. Nicole Ball. Lincoln: University of
        Nebraska Press, 1999. (Guadeloupe) (At the Bookstore)

Esteves, Carmen C., and Lizabeth Paravisini-Gerbert, eds.  Green Cane and Juicy Flotsam:
        Short Stories by Caribbean Women.  New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 1991.
        (At the Bookstore)

Dracius, Suzanne. “Sweat, Sugar, and Blood."  Trans. Doris Y.Kadish. The Whistling Bird:
        Women Writers of the Caribbean. Elaine Campbell and Pierrette Frickey, eds. Boulder,
        CO., and London:Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1998: 193-201. (At the Copy Center, JC)

The following texts from the literary journal Callaloo can be found online (Library Databases:
ProjectMuse: from 1995-2001 & Jstor: 1976-1994) or at Fenwick Library journal section
(1st floor).

Alvarez, Julia. Excerpt from In the Name of Salomé. Callaloo  23.3 (2000): 828-838.
        (Dominican Republic) At Fenwick, 1st floor.

---.  “Doña Aída, With your Permission.” Callaloo 23.3 (2000) 821-823. At Fenwick, 1st floor.

Cruz, Angie.  “Doña Soza.”  Excerpt from Soledad (a novel forthcoming from Simon & Schuster).
        Callaloo 23.3 (2000): 972-976.  (Dominican Republic) Online, Project Muse.

Danticat, Edwidge.  “Between the Pool and the Gardenias.”  The Caribbean Writer 7 (1993): 66-70.   (Haiti)

---.  “Graduation.” The Caribbean Writer 5: (1991):100-103.

Desquiron, Lilas.  Excerpt from Les chemins de Loco-Miroir. Trans. Jean Desquiron. Callaloo 15.2
        (1992): 484-489.  (Haiti)  Online, Jstor.

Dracius, Suzanne. “The Virago.” Trans., Doris Y. Kadish and Jean-Pierre J. Piriou. Callaloo 19.1
        (1996): 143-147. (Martinique)  Online, Project Muse.

Ferré, Rosario.  “The Bitches' Colloquy. ” Trans. Rosario Ferré and Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert.
   Callaloo 17.3 (Summer, 1994): 889-899. (Puerto Rico)  Online, Jstor.

Hernández Nuñes, Angeles.  “Commonplaces.” Trans. Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert. Callaloo 23.3
        (2000): 995-998. (Dominican Republic)  Online, Project Muse.

Levins Morales, Aurora. “Hurricane.” Callaloo 17.3  (1994): 804-807.  (Puerto Rico) Online, Jstor.

Lugo Filippi, Carmen.  “Milagros, on Mercurio Street.”  Trans. Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert.
        Callaloo 17.3 (1994): 870-877.  (Puerto Rico)   Online, Jstor.

Schwarz-Bart, Simone.  "Your Handsome Captain" (1987). Trans. Jessica Harris and Catherine
        Temerson.  Callaloo 12.1 (1989): 531-543.  (Guadeloupe) Online, Jstor.

Vega, Ana Lydia. “Liliane's Sunday.”  Trans. Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert. Callaloo 17.3
        (1994): 809-815.  (Puerto Rico)  Online, Jstor.

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   Attendance in class is mandatory, as discussion, lectures and hands-on activities are essential parts of the course. You are expected to complete all readings and assigned projects, participate fully in all class activities and on-line discussions. If you miss a class, you are responsible for completing any assignments, reading, etc., prior to the next class. In this regard we expect to see a 500 word report on the readings of the day. It is necessary to be connected to the Internet, since part of the information you are going to bring to class might be downloaded from the web, and some of the discussions will be carried online through Townhall. The following assignments should be completed and submitted on time (see course outline for dates).

 - 1 short oral presentation (15%) (ten minutes) on a particular topic based on the required readings (short stories, plays or narratives), the analysis of an article from the suggested reading list, or a topic of your choice related to the course after consulting with the instructor. These brief presentations, which will start around our fifth class meeting, will open our in-class discussions. You have the choice of submitting a 750-word written report of this presentation or of the mid-term.

- 1 paper (25%) (approximately 1500 words). Several topics will be suggested, but you can select your own topic after consulting with the instructor. A bibliography is suggested, but not mandatory since your work can be original.  All sources or quotations should be carefully documented. Papers should be typewritten, double-spaced and should follow the guidelines of the MLA style manual. The grades will be based on content but, organization, style, grammar, mechanics, and references will also count.

-1 book review (20%) (approximately 750 words). You will have to write a short analysis of a novel by a French/Spanish Caribbean woman writer of your choice ( see suggested list of novels ). Your review should be analytical and critical, rather than descriptive.  For example of book reviews, you may want to peruse some reviews published in academic literary journals.  The best reviews will be recommended for publication in our own Hispanic Culture Review.

-A mid-term oral presentation (25%). A ten minute analytical presentation of a movie from the movie list or a French/Spanich Caribbean movie of your choice related to our course's topics. You have the choice of submitting a 750-word written report of this mid-term or of the "short oral presentation."

-Townhall discussions (15%). Several topics of discussion related to our readings will be posted weekly on Townhall. These questions will guide you in your readings, and prepare you for our in-class discussions. You will be required to post your opinions.

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1st Class Session          Tuesday May 29

-Presentation of syllabus
-Brief introduction to the Caribbean Universe
-Townhall presentation and introduction

2nd Class Session            Thursday May 31

-Dates and topics/articles for in-class presentations
-Read Introduction of Green Cane and Juicy Flotsam,  pp xi-xxix.
-Brief introduction to their writings (main/common/recurrent topics/concerns, literary practices, etc)
-The Caribbean Women’s literary tradition.  Their position vis-à-vis to the literary canon (Male and Western…)

3rd Class Session          Tuesday June 5

Caribbean Women Writers and Orality / Oral tradition
-“Red Flower” by Paulette Poujol-Oriol. Green Cane & Juicy flotsam, pp.167-172
         -“Tétiyette and the Devil,” anonymous. Green Cane & Juicy flotsam, pp.1-4
-“Passport to Paradise” by Myriam Warner-Vieyra. Green Cane & Juicy..., pp.243-246 
-“A Pottage of Lentils” by Marie-Thérèse Colimon-Hall. Green Cane & Juicy..., pp.41-55
-“Of Natural Causes” by Mirta Yañez. Green Cane & Juicy..., pp.247-252 

4th Class Session          Thursday June 7

Caribbean Women Writers and Orality / Oral tradition
-“Red Flower” by Paulette Poujol-Oriol. Green Cane & Juicy flotsam, pp.167-172
         -“Tétiyette and the Devil,” anonymous. Green Cane & Juicy flotsam, pp.1-4
-“Passport to Paradise” by Myriam Warner-Vieyra. Green Cane & Juicy..., pp.243-246 
-“A Pottage of Lentils” by Marie-Thérèse Colimon-Hall. Green Cane & Juicy..., pp.41-55
-“Of Natural Causes” by Mirta Yañez. Green Cane & Juicy..., pp.247-252

5th Class Session              Tuesday June 12

Women and the Act of Writing / Their Relationship to the Written Word
-“Three Women in Manhattan” by Maryse Condé. Green Cane & Juicy..., pp.56-67 
-"Opera Station. Six in the Evening. For Months” by J. Hyvrard. Green Cane..., pp.119-122
-“Doña Aida, With your Permission” by Julia Alvarez. Callalo 23.3(2000): 821-823
-“The Bitches' Colloquy" by Rosario Ferré. Callaloo 17.3 (1994): 889-899

6th Class Session            Thursday June 14


-“Milagros, Mercurio St.” by Carmen Lugo Filippi. Calaloo 17.3 (1994): 870-77
-“How to Gather the Shadows of Flowers” by A. Hernández. Green Cane..., pp. 104-18 
-“Cotton Candy” by Dora Alonso. Green Cane..., pp. 12-18
- "Hair" by Hilma Contreras.  Green Cane & Juicy Flotsam, pp. 68-72
-“Doña Soza” by Angie Cruz. Callaloo 23.3 (2000): 972-976 

7th Class Session            Tuesday June 19


Marginalization, Oppression, and Alienation
-“Hurricane” by Aurora Levins Morales. Callaloo 17.3 (1994): 804-7
-“They Called her Aurora: (A Passion for Donna Summer) by Aída Cartagena Portalatín. 
Green Cane and Juicy Flotsam, pp. 27-30
-“No Dust is Allowed in this House” by Olga Nolla. Green Cane..., pp. 125-41
-“Between the Pool and the Gardenias” by Edwige Danticat
-“Your Handsome Captain” by Simone Schwarz-Bart. Callaloo 12.1 (1989): 531-43

8th Class Session       Thursday June 21

-Topic and outline of paper due

-“Sweat, Sugar, and Blood” by Suzanne Dracius (At the Copy Center)
-“The Virago” by Suzanne Dracius. Callaloo 19.1 (1996): 143-7
-“ADJ, Inc.” by Ana Lydia Vega.  Green Cane & Juicy Flotsam, pp. 212-23
-“The Poisoned Story” by Rosario Ferré.  Green Cane & Juicy Flotsam, pp.86-97

Open class discussion on women and Caribbean music, and art

9th Class Session         Tuesday June 26


-Mid-Term Exam: Analytical oral presentations
-Caribbean cinema

10th Class Session           Thursday June 28

-Book reviews due (should be posted on Townhall.)

Revision / Demystification of History
-“Liliane’s Sunday” by Ana Lydia Vega. Callaloo 17.3 (1994): 809-815
-“In the Name of Salomé” by Julia Alvarez. Callaloo 23.3 (2000): 828-838
-“Land of Many Colors” by Maryse Condé (Book)
-“Nanna-Ya” by Maryse Condé (Book)
-“Island Memories” by Ina Césaire (At the JC Copy Center)

11th Class Session         Tuesday July 3


Immigration /Exile/Separation
-“Commonplaces” by Angeles Hernández Nuñez. Callaloo 23.3 (2000): 995-8
-“Piano-Bar” by Liliane Devieux. Green Cane & Juicy Flotsam, pp.73-9
-“Graduation” by Edwidge Danticat
-“Miembros Fantasmas/Ghost Limbs” by Teresa Marero. Bridges to Cuba, pp. 44-56.

12th Class Session          Thursday July 5


Deconstruction and Reconstruction of Identity / Discovery of Identity
-“Beyond the Rupture: Reconciling with Our Enemies, Reconciling with Ourselves” by María de los Angeles Torres. Bridges to Cuba, pp. 25-42.
-“Finding what Had Been Lost in Plain View” by Ester Rebeca Shapiro Rok. Bridges to Cuba, pp.85-95.
-“Les chemins de Loco-Miroir” (excerpt) by Lilas Desquiron. Callaloo 15.2 (1992):484-9

13th Class Session        Tuesday July 10

Open class discussion on visual arts, cuisine, and folk dressing and fashion

14th Class Session         Thursday July 12

-Research papers due (a short abstract should be posted on Townhall)
-Brief presentation of papers
-Fiinal conclusions on course

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The movies listed below can be found at the JC or at various video stores that hold an extensive foreign movie section. Due to time constraint, you will have to view them on your own. You must consider these movies as a learning experience, and not as a mere entertainment. To assist and guide you with these viewings, you will be given several questions, and topics from which we will base our in-class discussions.  If you are interested in any other movie/documentary related to our course's topics, let us know.

Sugar Cane Alley.  Dir. Euzhan Palcy. Perf. Légitimus, Darling, Cadenat, Carry, Sed, Douna. (1984). Johnson Center Videotapes, PN1997. S862

 Strawberry and Chocolate.  Dir.Tomas Gutierrez Alea, Juan Carlos Tabio.  Perf. Jorge Perugorria, Vladimir Cruz, Martha Ibarra.  Miramax, 1995.

Bitter Sugar.  Dir. Leon Ichaso.  Perf. Rene Lavan, Mayte Vilan, Miguel Gutierrez.  First Look Pictures, 1997.  Johnson Center Videotapes, PN1997. B532

IA-- Kuba I am Cuba.  Mikhail Kalatozov, dir.Milestone film and video, 1996. JC Videotapes, PN 1997. I16 1996

Everyday Art/ Arte de cada día.  María Luisa Mendonça, dir. 1994. JC Videotapes

Urban Design and Planning in Havana, Cuba: An Historical Perspective.  Blacksburg, Va: Virginia Tech, 1996.  JC Videotapes, NA 9152. H3. U7

A Woman’s Place: Short Stories.” Bulfrog Films, 1995.

Portrait of Teresa”  PN1997. P6758

Nueba Yol

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