Fall 2023

The Creole Imagination

Listed in: Black Studies, as BLST-461  |  English, as ENGL-491


C. Rhonda Cobham-Sander (Section 01)


(Offered as ENGL 491, BLST 461 [CLA], and LLAS 461) What would it mean to write in the language in which we dream? A language that we can hear, but cannot (yet) see? Is it possible to conceive a language outside the socio-symbolic order? And can one language subvert the codes and values of another? Questions like these have animated the creolité/nation language debate among Caribbean intellectuals since the mid-1970s, producing some of the most significant francophone and anglophone writing of the twentieth century. This course reads across philosophy, cultural theory, politics, and literature in order to consider the claims such works make for the Creole imagination. We will engage the theoretical and creative work of Édouard Glissant, Maryse Condé, Wilson Harris, Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, Patrick Chamoiseau, Jamaica Kincaid, and Edwidge Danticat. We also will consider how these writers transform some of the fundamental ideas of psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and critical historiography. At stake in our readings will be the various aesthetic and political aspects of postcolonial struggle–how to think outside the colonial architecture of language; how to contest and subvert what remains from history’s violence; and how to evaluate the claims to authenticity of creolized New World cultural forms.

Limited to 20 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Fall semester. Professor Cobham-Sander.

How to handle overenrollment: Priority given to junior and senior majors in English and Black Studies.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: emphasis on written work, readings

ENGL 491 - LEC

Section 01
M 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM SCCE A019
W 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM SCCE A019


Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2023