Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities
2010—2011 Forum on Virtuality
Africana Studies, English
"Ee Cassé": Virtuality and Remembrance in Caribbean Poetry
Located at the nexus of several different cultural narratives with unique relationships to the Middle Passage and slavery, the Caribbean re-memory narrative bears an ontological resistance to standard Western European literary tradition and form. Literatures from the region have displayed both a mastery of Western canonical form and produced unique improvisations of form that challenge the literary and rhetorical boundaries of speech, expression, and remembrance in acknowledgement of the region's socio-cultural and historical liminality. Barbadian writer and theorist, Kamau Brathwaite, in accordance with his theorizations of Nation-Language, has produced a body of poetic works that have made unique use of breaks, superimposition, and non-traditional usages of typeface, which consciously bear the distinct mark of computer-generated forms—re-imagining possibilities for transcription of an Antillean sound, particularly in the service of the memory narrative. Brathwaite not only explores a new route for Antillean literary expression, he posits technology as integral to the poetic form, not simply tangentially involved in its production. Accordingly, this project seeks to explore virtuality as a crucial vehicle through which Caribbean literary tradition is shaping itself, and re-shaping Western literary production.