“A ‘decolonised’ syllabus” (BAME authors you think students should read)


[Many thanks to Olive Senior and Ifeona Fulani for bringing this item to our attention.] The Guardian offers suggestions by readers: “After Lola Olufemi’s call to ‘decolonise’ Cambridge’s English literature curriculum, we asked you to tell us which black and minority ethnic writers should be studied. Here are some of our favourite suggestions.” For the purposes of our Caribbean-centered blog, here are some of the Caribbean writers on the list:

Sam Selvon, The Lonely Londoners [Trinidad]:This novel is quintessentially London: characters trying to make ends meet in the hustle and bustle of London streets and landmarks, with the hope (and at times tragedy) of progress. Written about the influx of migrants from Africa, south Asia and the Caribbean to the stretch of the legendary melting pot that is still known as the Harrow Road, trying to find that gold that they were promised. So many of the references made in this novel are stories that my grandparents and my mum relayed to me: Ladbroke Grove market being the only source of food from back home, scrambling for warmth in a one-bed flat with only a small electric heater for a family of eight, struggles finding jobs, facing discrimination, lack of language. The list goes on. It feels true even today for many.
(Jess Hirani, secondary school teacher, London)

[. . .] Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea [Dominica]: In Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë depicts non-English sexuality as corrupt and threatening. But in Rhys’s version of the story, Bertha Mason is not an aggressor. She’s a victim who has to be doubly sacrificed, trapped then burned, so that Jane and Mr Rochester can have their happy ending. (Sibyl Ruth, former University of Cambridge student)

[. . .] Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John and Lucy [Antigua; shown above]: I read both of these books aged 20 at university (UEA) and was captivated by Kincaid’s description of two articulate, angry young women in Antigua living with the effects of colonialism, showing how this system eroded their own cultural identity and how they came through it. Wonderful and elegant, concise writing. I can still remember some of the phrases and sentences nearly 20 years later. The books offer a different viewpoint of colonialism, and also black African and Caribbean people than that which I had grown up with in the UK. (Cali) [. . .]

For full article, see https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/oct/26/a-decolonised-sylllabus-bame-authors-students-should-read

Also see https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/oct/25/cambridge-academics-seek-to-decolonise-english-syllabus

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