A Field of Islands: The Intertextual Geography of the roman de la canne

Carlotti-Smith, Danielle Denise, Department of French, University of Virginia
Department of French, University of Virginia

Department of French The University of Virginia "A Field of Islands: The Intertextual Geography of the roman de la canne" My dissertation, a comparative study of literary and critical texts in four languages (French, Spanish, Portuguese, and English), examines the transnational and transcolonial connections among works belonging to a genre I refer to as the sugarcane novel. Pairing novels by the contemporary Martinican writer Raphaël Confiant with works from different time periods and literary traditions in Martinique, Guadeloupe, Brazil, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic, I argue for the need to decenter the prevailing center-periphery paradigm that informs most scholarship on créolité, the literary and cultural movement of which Confiant is a cofounder. I propose the concept of intertextual geography as a means of approaching the region to which Edouard Glissant refers as Plantation America as a type of text made up of parts and wholes (nations or islands that are both their own entities and parts of a cultural region) and in order to place texts into dynamic dialogue with one another regarding the sugarcane plantation experience and its far-reaching cultural legacies. This conceptual methodology reveals striking continuities between Confiant's sugarcane novels and those by other New World writers on the basis of their physical and cultural geography (the landscape of the sugarcane plantation system and the Creole societies emerging from it), and the aesthetic and ideological dimensions of their imagined textual sugarcane worlds. Chapters address geography's significance for the creolization process; definitions of Creoleness and 2 questions of East Indian integration into Caribbean life; the influence of French nineteenth-century realism and naturalism on New World writers' conceptions of genre and history; and ecocritical epistemologies of the sugarcane plantation landscape. The recurrence of the sugarcane novel in the literary history of the New World signals a persistent and obsessive search for autochthonous identity that is deeply rootedhistorically, environmentally, and culturally-in the plantation landscape. My work reveals these various tensions-between parts and wholes; specific islands/nations/regions and Plantation America; individual texts and broader genreswhich make it possible to apprehend the sugarcane novel phenomenon as a larger literary landscape without losing sight of the elements that compose it.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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