Oceans separate the cultures that line their shores, but they also connect those regions physically, culturally, economically, and biotically. For millennia Europeans experienced the Atlantic Ocean as a mysterious and dangerous frontier marking the western extremity of civilization. Beginning in the fifteenth century, European navigators, merchants, slave-traders, fishermen, and whalers began to traverse the Atlantic in increasing numbers. Today the peoples who inhabit Atlantic shores share many historical interconnections. From Africa to the Antilles, Central America, South America, and North America the cultural, linguistic, and literary legacies of Atlantic history link coastal communities to one another. In this course we will explore literature and history of the European discovery and conquest of the Caribbean, the Atlantic slave trade, and the modern Caribbean, paying particular attention to the role of the sea in narratives of the Afro-Caribbean experience.
Field WorkCountry: Trinidad and Tobago
Day: 2 - Friday, 27 November
In this field seminar we will explore the multi-cultural history of Port of Spain, paying particular attention to the way Afro-Caribbean heritage is represented, officially and unofficially, at institutions and in the street. To that end we will visit sites that attest to the legacies of European colonialism, the slave trade, and international immigration to the West Indies. We will visit the house of the first freed slave in Trinidad, the colorful St. James District, and the National Museum and Art Gallery. We might also have the opportunity to attend a dance performance at the studio of celebrated dancer Makeda Thomas.