Emilio Jorge Rodríguez: “The Literary Corpus of Caribbean Anglophone Literature”

The 16th International Conference of Caribbean Studies, hosted by the “Norman Girvan” Department of Caribbean Studies at the University of Havana, is taking place now (December 14-16, 2022). The conference is organized around the theme “Cuba y el Caribe: 50 años de relaciones.” Today, the keynote speech—”El corpus literario del Caribe anglófono: una bibliografía cronológica” [The Literary Corpus of Caribbean Anglophone Literature-A Chronological Bibliography]—was delivered by Dr. Emilio Jorge Rodríguez. The panel was moderated by Dr. Camila Valdés, with leading Cuban poet Nancy Morejón (National Prize of Literature) as commentator.

The keynote speech centered on Dr. Rodríguez’s work to produce an exhaustive database as well as book-length manuscript for publication. Here are excerpts from his presentation:

For more than three decades now, one aspect of my work has been to document Anglophone-Caribbean literary production, with a view to completing a Chronological Bibliography of Anglophone-Caribbean Literature from the beginnings, in the seventeenth century, up to 1980. Most of the data from the 1980s is on the web, as anybody knows. And the data before 1980 can be found as well, but what I have done is in sequential order, year by year, of the first edition of each book published by every Caribbean author [. . .].   

The consequence is a work in which anyone can find country, year, genre, author, publishing house and publishing city, from the English-speaking Caribbean literary production since its beginnings to 1980. [Thus] everyone can get the chronology of the published works of an author, a country, or a territory, or check any database about the publishing houses where Caribbean books have been published. For researchers and professors [it is also useful as] a way to display a chronology of the development of genres and national or territorial production for a better study of the literature of each country or territory, as well as the whole Caribbean region. In fact, it is a corpus to arrange and organize national literary histories or a regional Caribbean history of literature. Anyone can create graphics with this database so as to develop research on any matter linked with Caribbean authors and works.

My aim has been to create an exhaustive database of first editions of all literary works prior to 1980, wherever in the world they have been published, by writers from the English-speaking Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, British Virgin Islands and US Virgin Islands. Also, given the importance of the oral tradition as part of the literary corpus and to complete the canon of literary production of the Caribbean, my documentation has included compilations on literary folklore by researchers from countries outside the Caribbean area, distinguishing these entries by a different typography.

I have painstakingly been documenting in sequential order, year by year, the first edition of each book published by every Caribbean author and entering the bibliographic information in database EXCEL files with columns for Country, Year, Author, Title, Genre, Publishing House, Place (Publishing City), Number of pages, Source. I have accomplished this by conducting research in archives and libraries in the Caribbean (Barbados, Cuba, Guyana, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad and Tobago), the United States of America, and Great Britain.

Outputs of this research

The immediate output of my research has been a work in which students and researchers can locate country, year, genre, author, title, publishing house for all English-speaking Caribbean literary production across the centuries. This, in turn, will constitute a corpus for national and comparative regional literary histories, as well as individual authors and works. The database thus far has already proved an indispensable tool for developing my own research. The concluding work will also disseminate the information for the benefit of others, through both the database and a book-length manuscript for publication. [. . .]

For more information or to access the full keynote speech, you may contact the author at ejorge@cubarte.cult.cu

For more on the conference, see https://www.facebook.com/catedracaribenormangirvan/

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