Dreams of Archives Unfolded: Absence and Caribbean Life Writing
- Author: Jocelyn Fenton Stitt, Division Chair of Social Sciences, Associate Professor of Women's Studies, St. Catherine University; past Program Director of Faculty Research Development at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWG), University of Michigan
- Aliyah Khan, Associate Professor of English Literature and Languages & Afroamerican and African Studies; Director of the Global Islamic Studies Center, International Institute, University of Michigan
- Supriya Nair, Professor of English Language and Literature, University of Michigan
The first book on pan-Caribbean life writing, Dreams of Archives Unfolded (Rutgers University Press, 2021) by Jocelyn Fenton Stitt reveals the innovative formal practices used to write about historical absences within contemporary personal narratives. Although the premier genres of writing postcoloniality in the Caribbean have been understood to be fiction and poetry, established figures such as Erna Brodber, Maryse Condé, Lorna Goodison, Edwidge Danticat, Saidiya Hartmann, Ruth Behar, and Dionne Brand and emerging writers such as Yvonne Shorter Brown, and Gaiutra Bahadur use life writing to question the relationship between the past and the present. Stitt theorizes that the remarkable flowering of life writing by Caribbean women since 2000 is not an imitation of the “memoir boom” in North America and Europe; instead, it marks a different use of the genre born out of encountering gendered absences in archives and ancestral memory that cannot be filled with more research. Dreams of Archives makes a significant contribution to studies of Caribbean literature by demonstrating that women’s autobiographical narratives published in the past twenty years are feminist epistemological projects that rework Caribbean studies’ longstanding commitment to creating counter-archives.
This event is part of IRWG's Gender: New Works, New Questions series, which spotlights recent publications by faculty members and allows for deeper discussion by an interdisciplinary panel.
Register for the Zoom event: https://myumi.ch/7eeDz
Acrylic and oil on archival printed canvas
72 x 48 in (182.9 x 121.9 cm)
© Firelei Báez
Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York
Photo: Jackie Furtado