Title

Literary "cacoism": Function of the American character in the Haitian novel as of 1915

Date of Completion

January 1999

Keywords

Literature, Modern|Literature, Caribbean

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

Based on my research, there is no book-length study that examines the representation of the American in Haitian novels of the critical period of the American occupation. In recent years, however, this topic seems to have generated a great deal of interest as can be seen in the works of three well known critics of Haitian literature. In an article published in Caribbean Studies, “Images of the Americans in Haitian Literature during the Occupation, 1915–1934”, Yvette Tardieu-Feldman examines the progressive appearance of the American character in Haitian literature from the time of Spanish colonization to 1915; a presence, she notes judiciously, which culminates in the aftermath of that occupation. Léon-François Hoffmann, brings some insights into the novels of the occupation in his Roman Haïtien (1982). Michael Dash offers a more critical approach in his Literature and ideology in Haiti, 1915–1961 (1981). My study aims to be the first to devote itself to a semiologic examination of the representation of Americans in Haitian literature of the period in question. ^ My study aims to be the first to devote itself to a semiologic examination of the representation of Americans in Haitian literature of the period in question.^ My dissertation can thus be inscribed in the general area of the representation of alterity. Here however I will be dealing specifically with “the other side”, and attempt to study the dynamics of the relation to the American “Other”, which, in some ways, is a displacement from the French “Other” of the early colonial period. Haitian writers use the form of the novel to understand their situation and the values arbitrarily imposed upon them, as a means of re-imagining their future. ^ The first part of my dissertation deals with the historical background, with an emphasis on Haitian and American relationship during the Occupation of 1915. It focuses on the depiction of Nationalism and its cultural offsprings, Indigénisme and Négritude, in literature. The second part, treats in depth the traumatic consequences of the American presence on the Haitian psyche during that period. ^ In my conclusion I suggest a literary reappraisal of the concept of the First Independent Black Nation in the world. ^