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FREN4103 - The Haitian Novel, 1944-2004

Value: 0.5 course units
Professor Andrew Leak
Teaching structure:
two assessed 3000 word essays (100%).

Module Description:

In 1804, after thirteen years of bloody struggle against its French colonisers, Haiti
(Ayiti, as it was known to its original Amerindian inhabitants) became only the second
independent republic, after the USA, in the Americas. It was also the first black
republic in a monolithically racist world. Over the last two centuries it has been
continually subject to the predations of foreign powers and an indigenous elite
ensconced in power ever since the departure of the French. Haitian literature only
started to find its own voice in the twentieth century. Commencing with Roumain's
seminal 'roman paysan', this module will examine a range of texts produced both in
Haiti and in the Haitian diaspora. The chosen works exemplify the hold of the past on
the Haitian imaginary, returning, as they do, to the traumatic sites of Haitian history:
the 1915-1934 U.S. occupation of Haiti, the 1937 massacre of Haitians in the
Dominican Republic, the dictatorships of François and Jean-Claude Duvalier (1957-

Preparatory Reading and Set Texts:

  • Jacques Roumain, Gouverneurs de la rosée (Le Temps des Cerises, 1944).
  • René Depestre, Le Mât de Cocagne (Folio)
  • Lyonel Trouillot, Bicentenaire (Hatier, 2004) or any available edition.
  • Dany Laferrière, Pays sans chapeau (Le Serpent à Plumes, coll. Motifs, 1997).
  • Gary Victor, A l'angle des rues parallèles (Vents d'ailleurs, 2003).

Secondary reading:

  • Edwige Danticat, The Farming of Bones (London, Abacus, 1998).

Further secondary reading will be indicated in due course.