mercredi 28 août 2013

One Island, Two Countries, One Class: Haiti and the DR

I have been under the radar and not posting much this summer as I complete the final edits of my book, Conflict Bodies: The Politics of Rape Representation in the Francophone Imaginary (Ohio University Press, 2014). With a few deadlines behind me and the beginning of the semester a week away I am now preparing for fall classes. 

This year I will be teaching two new courses, “'How to Read and Write About Africa:' Comparative African Literatures," and “Beyond the Border: Haiti and the Dominican Republic.” Each of these classes provide me with an opportunity to focus on the importance of  using a comparative approach to think about Haiti through literary and cultural studies. I am excited to be reading excellent literature and pursuing new themes with my students.
For the Haiti/DR class I am using novels as my point of departure for a discussion of the historic, political and cultural disjunctures and similarities between the two countries. Of course we will explore the historic tensions from the Haitian presence in DR after the Revolution, to virulent anti-haitianismo policies, Dominican aid to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake and current events such as the recent conflict over importations

We are reading five novels: Nelly Rosario’s Song of the Water Saints (2002), Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones (1998), In the Time of the Butterflies (1994) by Julia Alvarez, René Philoctète’s Massacre River (1989) and Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2008). Since the Danticat, Alvarez and Philoctete books are each set during the 1937 massacre, we will spend a lot of time discussing this period. I plan to add some essays from The Butterfly’s Way to complement our reading of Diaz and have more points of comparison for what these literatures look like in the diaspora and in a contemporary context.
Haitians attempting to flee the DR in 1937 via

Other scholars have done important interdisciplinary work on this topic as well. I will draw secondary readings from the scholarship of Michele Wucker, Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians and the Fight for Hispaniola, Eugenio Matibag's Haitian and Dominican Counterpoint, Myriam Chancy's From Sugar to Revolution: Women’s Visions of Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic; Pedro L. San Miguel's The Imagined Island: History, Identity, and Utopia in Hispaniola (Latin America in Translation/En Traduccion/Em Traducao). The Tears of Hispaniola: Haitian and Dominican Cultural Memory by Lucía Suárez. I am also using a number of other articles such as Richard Lee Turits  “A World Destroyed, A Nation Imposed: The 1937 Haitian Massacre in the Dominican Republic” that will help to set some of the historical context for this time period. I wish I could have my students attend the Transnational Hispaniola Conference, the first part of which took place in 2012 and is being organized by Rutgers University, but perhaps instead we can get some of the proceedings from the conference.

The journal Meridians has a nice discussion between women writers entitled, Voices from Hispaniola: A Meridians Roundtable with Edwidge Danticat, Loida Maritza Perez, Myriam J. A. Chancy, Nelly Rosario, and Ginetta E. B. Candelario. I am especially thrilled that this year BC is fortunate to have two of these amazing women--Edwidge Danticat and Nelly Rosario--visit campus to give lectures during the academic year. 

I am really excited about embarking on this new teaching experience and look forward to letting you know how it goes this fall!


2 commentaires:

  1. Bravo, Régine
    Du beau travail en perspective. Bonne année académique, ici une fois de plus la rentrée scolaire est retardée par un gouvernement qui donne la priorité au Carnaval. L'éducation des enfants n'est pas un souci primordial.

  2. Your class looks wonderful, Régine! (and thanks to Patrick Bellegarde-Smith who just sent a nudge to friends to come to the blog - I forget to check always otherwise!) You have a great selection of novels and also a nice array of historical context, with different perspectives on the Haiti-DR relationship.

    Evelyne's comment saddens me...but gives me hope at the same time. I thank her for letting us know about this and for continuing to point the way to a more just society.

    Alyssa Sepinwall