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Negotiations: Memory and Identity in Caribbean literature


Admission requirements

BA opleiding.


D'This beautiful damned island!' exclaims one of the protagonists in Doubleplay, a novel from the Dutch Caribbean author Frank Martinus Arion. And he continues: 'Dreamers, we are dreamers on this damned island'. Such ambivalence and critique is not an exception in the self-representation of the Caribbean.
The colonial history and the multi-cultural character of the area makes for a complex relation to local and national identity. The course takes a twofold stance vis-a-vis Caribbean literary texts. They are considered to be both reflections on Caribbean identities, and producers of such identities.
The 20th century texts that we will study in this course are strongly rooted in the Caribbean, and similtanuously connected to the history of Africa, South-America and Europe: to a history of slavery and diaspora. The hybrid forms of writing that this brings forth, could be used as a model for understanding and ‘reading’ diversity in the rest of the globalizing world.
We will therefore analyze the hybrid Caribbean identity in Dutch texts in a comparative perspective: confronting them with French and English novels and -Theory. Globalization theory and contemporary theory from the Caribbean (Edouard Glissant, Wilson Harris, Antonio Benitez-Rojo, Kamau Brathwaite, Stuart Hall, Paul Gilroy) will be read for understanding the multiplicity of Caribbean identity and culture. The question is not only how to understand and frame the works under scrutiny, but also how we may evaluate these theories for our purpose.

This means that we will be focusing on two central questions:
1. what is the role and influence of colonial and post-colonial memory production and trauma on these representations of Caribbean identity?
2. Which theories can we use that do justice to the multi-cultural character of Caribbean identity and culture?

Course objectives

  • Acquiring knowledge of and insight in Caribbean literature in a comparative perspective and in the theories provided for the framing and analysis of the texts.

  • Learning how to apply and evaluate such theories to works of literature.

  • Designing and performing an academic research project into a case of Caribbean literature.

  • Analyzing and interpreting literary texts and presenting the results of these analysis orally and in writing. Learning how to evaluate such interpretations.


The timetable is available on Rooster MA Nederlands

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (1 X 3 uur per week)

Course Load

Study load: 280 hours

  • Seminars: 3 hours per week x 12 weeks = 36 hours

  • Writing assignments = 24 hours

  • Studying compulsory readings for seminars = 74 hours

  • Reading primary literature (novels) = 60 hours

  • Preparing oral presentation = 10 hours

  • Writing of final course paper, 5.000 words = 80 hours (rereading texts, collecting research material, searching and reading additional literature, composing and writing of paper)


Written and oral assignments (50%- no resit possible). In the second half of term, the assignment consists of the development and teaching of one topic to the rest of the class.
-Final paper (50%). May 21st : Deadline and presentation first draft. Final deadline on June 1st.



Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Is Blackboard used in the course? Yes/No. If so, in what manner?

Blackboard will be used for:

Reading list

The booktitles and / or syllabi to be used in the course, where it can be purchased and how this literature should be studied beforehand.


First-year students are divided at the beginning of the year in working groups.

Regular higher-year bachelor and master students are obliged to register ahead of time via uSis for lectures and workgroups.

For all other students applies that registration is through the co-ordinator of studies

General information about uSis is available in [English]) and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Choose from the options below:

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration (Contractonderwijs](
Not applicable


Contact information

Prof.dr. Yra van Dijk

For practical matters you may contact the secretarial office of the Opleiding Nederlandse Taal en Cultuur/Neerlandistiek. It is the Onderwijsadministratie P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 101A. Tel. 071 5272 2604. E-mail.


All other information.