Challenges of Teaching Caribbean Literature in a Caribbean University Classroom

Abstract

This paper explores the teaching / learning strategies employed specifically in three courses that focus on the genres of the Caribbean short story, novel, and women's writing taught at The University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad. These strategies range from interactive lectures, graphic organizers, posters, online forums, web pages, video blogs to playback theatre, for example. The canonization and inclusion of Caribbean literature at the UWI were solidified in the 1970s and various writers since then have been conferred with honorary degrees and served as writers-in-residence. Caribbean writers have copped many prestigious and international literary awards, foremost of which are two Nobel Prizes for Literature. It is ironic, therefore, that many UWI students of Caribbean literature begin higher education under-appreciating the merits and positioning of the literature in and of itself, and within a global context. The problem stems from wider challenges related to deficiencies in reading and critical thinking skills, and a lack of a unified sense of Caribbean identity. Educator Cynthia James has researched the status of literature in secondary schools in Trinidad, exploring the issues, implications and recommendations of the topic (2003); but, more needs to be done. This paper addresses what pertains at the tertiary level, engaging with Susanne Reichl's analysis of the formalist, functionalist and pragmatic approaches to literature (2009) and how Henry Widdowson's differentiating concepts of literature as discipline and as subject (1975) apply to the twenty-first century, Caribbean classroom.

Keywords: Caribbean literature; identity; discipline; subject; teaching/learning strategies



Author Information
Geraldine Skeete, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago

Paper Information
Conference: LibrAsia2013
Stream: Literature

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