West Indies

Youngquist and Botkin, "Introduction: Black Romanticism: Romantic Circulations"

This Romantic Circles Praxis Volume moves the perspective of critical inquiry into British Romanticism from the Island (England) to the Islands (West Indies), considering the particular significance of the Atlantic—watery vortex of myriad economic and cultural exchanges, roaring multiplicity of agencies, and vast whirlpool of creative powers. Black Romanticism remembers a forgotten ancestry of British culture, recovering the vital agencies of diasporic Africans and creole cultures of the West Indies. It does so by practicing counter-literacy, reading the works of nation, empire, and colony against themselves to liberate the common cultures they occlude. The five essays presented here examine texts by or about Jean Jacque Dessalines, Juan Manzano, Jack Mansong, Mary Prince, and John Gabriel Stedman, following a circuitous route that begins in Africa and travels from Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, Suriname, Bermuda, and Antigua to corresponding points in England, America, and the continent. The circulation of radically different adaptations of the “same” material provides new ways to understand the colonial Caribbean.
October 2011

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Szwydky, "Rewriting the History of Black Resistance: The Haitian Revolution, Jamaican Maroons and the “History” of Three-Fingered Jack in English Popular Culture, 1799-1830"

The story of Three-Fingered Jack (the escaped slave who terrorized the British colonists in Jamaica from 1780 to 1781) appeared in England in at least five major versions between 1799 and 1830. Although different in their respective politics and approaches, these five nineteenth-century version of the story deemphasized the collective threat that underlies Three-Fingered Jack’s exploits in 1780-81, during an time of several slave uprisings in the Caribbean, including the Haitian Revolution.
October 2011

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Speitz, "Blood Sugar and Salt Licks: Corroding Bodies and Preserving Nations in The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave, Related by Herself"

Speitz reveals how Prince’s narrative attests to the importance of salt, a central product of slave labor in the British-held West Indies. Although its overall value is largely ignored in literary scholarship, Speitz demonstrates how harvesting salt proved harmful enough to inspire Prince’s rendition of a horrific contortion of being. Her repeated detrimental exposure to salt transforms Prince’s body, consciousness, and ultimately, of course, her narrative--making it tantamount to a material history and psychological case study of a forced merger of landscape, labor, body, and mind. Prince’s text records how lethal amounts of salt seep through the skin, forging a visceral, literal, and grotesque union between salt, the commodified substance, and the slave, the commodified worker. Further, buttressing the vast amount of scholarship on the historical significance of luxury consumables which could easily impede international or regional revenue streams if boycotted, Speitz brings to light the unacknowledged history of Caribbean salt raking relative to not only British colonial economies and politics, but also to the revolutionary history of the United States, in which it plays a pivotal role.
October 2011

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Kennedy, "Going Viral: Stedman's Narrative, textual variation, and life in Atlantic Studies"

The current multiplex configuration of Stedman's _Narrative_ emerged in 1988, the result of Richard and Sally Price's new scholarly edition. The Prices' text transcribed Stedman's 1790 manuscript version aiming to restore his original authorial intent and exposing the extent to which the text had been altered by Stedman's first editor, Joseph Johnson. Both versions of the _Narrative_ are troubled by what they cannot contain, whether it be the sexual exploitation made possible by plantation-slavery, or the inter-racial desire that would eventually mark Stedman's _Narrative_ as a singular example of resistance to the exploitations inherent in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world.
October 2011

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Almeida, "Translating a Slave’s Life: Richard Robert Madden and the Post-Abolition Trafficking of Juan Manzano’s Poems by a Slave in the Island of Cuba"

Almeida examines the translations of Juan Manzano’s Poems, a manuscript that followed a labyrinthine route before its eventual publication. Almeida suggests that the translation provided British abolitionists with the cultural capital necessary to “ensure a future beyond 1840 given the realignment of geopolitical and economic power in the Atlantic” (11). Madden’s translation functions, she argues, “as a sign of appropriated cultural labor, and performs an ideological accommodation of slavery within the free market/free labor system” (3).
October 2011

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