Women writers from the Francophone and Hispanic Caribbean at the close of the twentieth century : en-gendering Caribbeanness
In contrast to the usual division of Caribbean literary criticism into linguistic
zones, this study adopts a pan-Caribbean approach. The contention is that women's
writing challenges and revises many of the major regional identity discourses, most of
which do not fully account for - or, in some cases, even allow - the shaping of female
Each chapter therefore revolves around an aspect of collective or individual identity.
Chapter one discusses female characterisation in the fiction of Gisele Pineau
(Guadeloupe, 1956), Ana Luz Garcia Calzada (Cuba, 1944), Edwidge Danticat
(HaitiIUS, 1969), Julia Alvarez (Dominican RepubliclUS, 1951), and Mayra Santos
(Puerto Rico, 1966), showing how these authors revise the representations commonly
found in the androcentric literary canons of the region and offer alternative models
crucial to the elaboration of a positive sense of identity for Caribbean women.
The interplay between Caribbean history and literature, and the erasure of women
from Caribbean historiography and historical fiction are the issues addressed in chapter
two. Here it is argued that conventional historiography does not allow for the
representation of Caribbean women's participation in the nation-building process.
Challenging conventional male writing, the fictional accounts offered by Pineau,
Santos, Danticat, and Alvarez reinsert the female presence in the Caribbean past.
Chapter three is devoted to language in Caribbean societies and literature. It
assesses the significance of gender in the creolisation process, and examines how
gender affects the notion of 'nation language'. Here the focus is on the linguistic
practices of Santos, Pineau, Sylviane Telchid (Guadeloupe, 1941), and Garcia Calzada.
Chapter four is concerned with the response of several women writers to various
identity discourses. It shows how Suzanne Dracius-Pinalie (Martinique, c. 1951) and
Adelaida Fernandez de Juan (Cuba, 1961), Danticat and Santos, and finally Marta Rojas
(Cuba, c. 1925) and Telchid contribute to the renovation of the canon by revising,
adapting or simply integrating these discourses.
Chapter five explores the treatment of exile and emigration in diaspora women's
writing. It evaluates the significance of this experience in terms of a redefinition of
(female) Caribbeanness in relation to the work of Dracius-Pinalie, Alvarez, Danticat,
and Cristina Garcia. It ends with a discussion of the implications of exile and
emigration for the notions of Caribbean identity, culture and literature.