Professor Isabel Bradley : Thurs 3:30pm - 6pm
This graduate seminar will center vegetal life as a means to deeply engage Francophone
Caribbean poetics, understood as encompassing written and oral expression, music and
kinesthetics, visual art, and spirituality. We will not merely consider how authors and artists reap unilateral symbolic meaning from plants in the aftermaths of plantation slavery and colonialism; rather, we will study how multifaceted models of memory, historicity, autonomy, solidarity, and futurity germinate from the entanglements of Caribbean thinkers with particular tropical vegetation. Though primarily focused on Haiti and the departmentalized French Antilles and Guiana, the seminar will incorporate perspectives from the Americas, Africa, and the anglophone Caribbean to survey emerging frameworks that view plants as active makers of worlds, including
Indigenous cosmovisions; ecofeminisms; ecopoetics; plant intelligence; sensory ethnobotany; and ecological metaphysics. Our principal guiding texts will include novels, poetry, critical essays, and visual art by Édouard Glissant, Sylvia Wynter, Suzanne Roussi Césaire and Aimé Césaire, Maryse Condé, Daniel Maximin, Patrick Chamoiseau, Françoise Vergès, Dénètem Touam Bona, Malcom Ferdinand, Mimerose Beaubrun, Edwidge Danticat, Jean Casimir, Monchoachi, Emanuele Coccia, Humberto Maturana, Édouard Duval-Carrié, and others. Discussions will also touch on colonial botanical archives and histories of ecological activism in the greater Caribbean. Our interrogations will raise issues of embodiment, trace, and historical consciousness; subjectivation, nonhuman agency, and modes of “ecological being”; species, taxonomy, and racialization; sensory knowledge and phenomenology; and form and aesthetics.
What are the contributions of plant beings to Caribbean conceptual landscapes? How do Francophone Caribbean paradigms of thought both contest and enrich approaches such as “postcolonial ecocriticism” and “racial capitalism”? The seminar will be taught in English, and readings may be done in French or in English .