Transcultural rhythms : the Caribbean grandmother repeating across time and space

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Bethell Bennett, Ian Anthony
  • Subject: HQ | PN

The figure of the grandmother is a rhythm which repeats itself throughout\ud Caribbean literature. The Caribbean literary grandmother owes a great deal to a history\ud of hardship under slavery and post-emancipation struggles for self-realisation and\ud empowerment.\ud This thesis explores the repeating theme of theme of the grandmother-headed-household in\ud literary works from Guadeloupe to Jamaica. The novels of Simone Schwarz-Bart, Joseph\ud Zobel, Cecil Foster, Zee Edgell, Alvin Bennett, Cristina Garcia and Pablo Medina are\ud interrogated in this space to reveal the importance of the grandmother character as the\ud backbone of the works. Other novels from the region will also be utilised as secondary\ud texts to further demonstrate the timeless nature of the grandmother's primary role in\ud cultural retention and in the writer's imagination.\ud Social-history provides an invaluable backdrop for understanding some of the\ud dynamics involved in the West Indian family relationship and family structure. Theories\ud as produced by theorists from within the region will be drawn upon alongside theories\ud produced outside the Caribbean. These theories are included because they allow for a\ud culturally distinct reading of Antillian literature that does not imprison the subject as\ud reductionist, Eurocentric theory does. The combination of these theories , will thereby\ud allow the importance of the grandmother character to come through, not as a\ud dysfunctional copy of European models, but rather as a character constructed within a\ud unique cultural contexts on distinct cultural codes.\ud The premise of this thesis is the deconstruction of boundaries by highlighting the\ud repeating grandmother rhythm. The established barriers serve to segregate works into\ud groups based on language, nationality, gender, and ethnicity. Therefore, reading along\ud the restrictive lines established by the latter has disallowed the rich understanding that\ud an interdisciplinary study which crosses genre, gender, and lines of ethnicity reveals.
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