A new research project funded by the Leverhulme Trust on Caribbean literary heritage is looking for collaborations with authors, researchers and archivists.
The Anglophone Caribbean’s reputation for outstanding creative writers has established itself globally since the late twentieth century, most prominently with St Lucian Derek Walcott’s Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 and Trinidadian V. S. Naipaul’s just short of a decade later, in 2001. More recently still, a cluster of major international prizes has confirmed the extraordinary standing of Caribbean-born writers on the world literary stage. The prestigious Forward Prize for Poetry was awarded to Jamaican Kei Miller in 2014, Jamaican-born Claudia Rankine in 2015 and Trinidadian Vahni Capildeo in 2016. In 2015 a Caribbean writer – Jamaican Marlon James – also won the coveted Man Booker Prize. Such accolades speak of individual talents but they also intimate something of a regional context for literary innovation and excellence. Despite this glittering present, the region’s literary history and the future of its past remain fragile.
‘Caribbean literary heritage: recovering the lost past and safeguarding the future’ seeks to analyze the current extent and character of the region’s literary heritage and to investigate how the recording of a literary past profoundly influences who is read, how they are read, by whom and in what venues. The project aims to transform understandings of what is lost but might yet be recovered, and of what literary archives might look like in the digital age. It will work with contemporary authors to encourage and support the preservation of their papers, and with critics to help develop an open access register of authors’ papers globally [including those held in private hands], as well as a timeline of literary production.
Alison Donnell and Kei Miller, the academic leads on this project, are both looking to recruit fully-funded PhD students to work on recovery research projects. As part of the project team, both students will join in presenting the project findings at the Bocas Literature festival, Trinidad in 2020 and will be involved in other project events and publications, as well as original archival research.
Applications for studentship 1, based at University of East Anglia, under the supervision of Professor Alison Donnell closes on 30 April with interviews on 16 May at UEA: https://www.uea.ac.uk/study/-/-recovering-lost-anglophone-caribbean-authors-1940-1980-
Details of studentship 2, based at the University of Exeter, under the supervision of Professor Kei Miller, will be found at http://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/research/facilities/funding/
Please do spread the word and contact us if you want to help or find out more about the project. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
An update with the project website, events and an author questionnaire will follow in the autumn.
[Image above: “Linen Day, Roseau, Dominica – A Market Scene” by Agostino Brunias (1728–1796)]