F20 Black Atlantic: Resources, Pedagogy, and Scholarship on the 18th Century Black Atlantic

Graduate Colloquium

The Gregory J. Hampton Graduate English Association is an annual opportunity for graduate English students to hear our peers present their research. This year’s colloquium presenter was Orrieann Florius, a current PhD candidate whose research focuses on Anglo-Caribbean literature. Orrie’s presentation was entitled “Maroon Spaces: Multilocational & Multitemporal Understandings of Place in the Works of Dennis Scott, Ramabai Espinet, and Marlon James,” which is also the title of her in-progress dissertation.

I will admit that having taking the first half of the Caribbean Literature sequence this semester, I felt as if my knowledge base with reference to Orrie’s topic is nowhere near sufficient. I’ve also not read any of the three writers she referenced, although I have several of Marlon James’s books on my to-read shelf. Still, I enjoyed hearing her talk through her application of the idea of marronage, especially her conceptualization of the body as maroon space in Anglo-Caribbean literature that focuses on women’s experiences. It’s definitely nice to hear our classmates talking about their research, but I think that the real value of this annual colloquium series is in the opportunity to witness and learn about the process of researching and drafting the dissertation. I was also happy to see that the virtual format of this year’s colloquium made for a much more informal, intimate event. Orrie’s mother and other members of her family were even able to attend! Finally, I was happy to come away from the colloquium with a list of texts that may be useful in my own research. Orrie’s use of NourbeSe Phillip’s theories of marronage were especially instructive and made me want to look up Philip’s work for myself. Although I don’t anticipate using marronage as a major theoretical foundation for my analysis of Black woman’s humor across the diapora, Phillip’s work may be useful for helping me understand and analyze how women in Anglo-Caribbean literature use humor as a mode of self-fashioning in post-colonial and migrant spaces.

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