This seminar focuses on an exploration of Haiti, its history and the fiction which that history and experience—as place, emblem, broader symbol, and metaphor—have given rise to. The site of a signal revolution which “lies at the crossroads of multiple discourses as a defining moment in world history,” Haiti is the world’s only Republic brought into being by the successful revolt of slaves. It is Latin America’s first post-colonial state, as well as the second of this hemisphere’s independent nations. It is, likewise, initial locale, provoking source and inspiration for the literary “Marvelous American Reality” Alejo Carpentier and the Haitian novelist Jacques Stéphen Alexis both consider as archetypically Haitian and American: a reality of marvel which, they maintain, Haiti at once produces, embodies, and imaginatively inspires.
With the elements of Haitian history as our common fund and contextual backdrop, students will critically read and compare Haitian theme novels by Hispanic writers such as Carpentier (Cuba) with those of contemporary Haitian authors in whose work the enduring legacies, current dilemmas and complexities of Haiti’s experience are also the principal object of narrative passion and concern.
This course will be taught in English. Spanish majors who wish to count this course toward fulfillment of requirements will be invited to write papers in Spanish.