Professor T. L. Goffe

Department of Social and Cultural Analysis

4:55 PM – 7:35 PM 

Location: 25 West 4th Street, C6

Office Hours: By Appointment, 429, 20 Cooper Square

 Caribbean Writing, Reggae, & Routes

 Fall 2018

This course provides an introduction to the cultural, racial, and linguistic diversity of Caribbean literature and culture. From rudeboys to colonial spy thrillers, students will explore the meaning of diaspora, and the relationship between routes of passage and the roots of cultures. Exploring aesthetic movements of the twentieth-century such as Négritude, Créolité, and Coolitude, students will employ an interdisciplinary approach, reading novels, poetry, photographs, music, and films to supplement an understanding of what comprises the Caribbean vernacular, in the literature and history of the region. A crucible of indigenous, African, European, and Asian influences, the Antilles have been shaped by the intersection of these disparate cultures as well as violent forced and voluntary migrations and exiles. Students will read and analyze literary works that rupture the image of the Caribbean as simply a tropical vacation paradise. Through exploring everyday Caribbean cultural practices and narrative forms from calypso, to voodoo, to reggae, to Santeria, the afterlives of the institutions of slavery and indenture come to bear in the present. Students will produce a Caribbean creative soundtrack, selecting songs—from a range of genres—relevant to the week’s readings.



More than one unexcused absence from class will adversely affect your attendance and participation grade. If you miss three classes you are in danger of failing. Please arrive on time to all class meetings.


10% presentation — 10% close reading blog posts —20% attendance & participation

20% Midterm Exam— 20% 5-8 page research paper—20% digital mapping project


How to Email Your Professor. A guide to university email etiquette and email writing.

Please note this course will be complemented by a number of visits by guest speakers and film screenings and discussion related to Caribbean culture.

GENDER IDENTIFICATION: You are welcome to assert your own gender identification(s) in this class; please specify your preferred gender pronoun when we do introductions. I identify with the feminine pronoun and prefer to be called Professor Goffe.

Blog. Starting Week 3, every other week students are expected to submit a  close reading of a passage by Friday at 2pm, except the week they are presenting. 200 words min. [].

Every week, students must post short comment on another student’s response for credit.

Soundtrack. Select and post a song (YouTube or Soundcloud) to the course WordPress blog each week with two sentences relating to the reading. Students cannot pick the same artist. Whoever posts first for that week has priority.


Attendance and Active Participation. Respond directly to your classmates. Make eye contact and address each other by name. Before beginning a new topic of discussion, respond to what your classmates have said. Avoid summarizing, since everyone has done the reading. Be critical in your analysis of the texts, whether you agree or not with the argument, by using specific examples and passages from the song or book. There will be two unannounced short quizzes, which will count for 5% of your participation grade, during the semester.


Presentation. Starting from week 3, students will be responsible in groups for a 10-minute presentation, in which, they will demonstrate command of the week’s texts. Points will be subtracted if a prepared script is read. It is the presenter’s task to open up a discussion using audio-visual aids or an interactive group activity. Conclude with two questions.


Papers. For the final assignment, students will write a research paper on the topic of their choice relating to the literature examined in the course Must be approved by instructor during office hours. Please consult Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, JSTOR, and the MLA bibliography. Extra credit will be granted to students who seek assistance at the Writing Center on a draft of the final paper (email from tutor required). Late papers will lose 1/3 of a grade each day.


  • 1-inch margins
  • size 12 font, Times New Roman/Garamond only
  • page #s
  • MLA or Chicago only
  • 3rd person objective POV only


Take-Home Midterm. October 5. Final Paper. 2,800 words – December 17.


(Please observe that there is reading/viewing to be done for the first day of classes: 9/10. The excerpts are to be found on NYU Classes.)

Watch BBC Reggae Documentary Part 1, [Resources]

Carolyn Cooper, “Professing Slackness: Language, Authority, and Power Within the Academy and Without” [Resources]

Kamau Brathwaite, “Nation Language,” “History of the Voice” [Resources] (You will notice there are two readings, one is a condensed version, read both)


1st Assignment: write a 2 page (double-spaced) precis summarizing either Carolyn Cooper or Kamau Brathwaite’s argument in the assigned reading. Hand in, first class, 9/10. 


Introduction to Caribbean Writing, Reggae, and Routes

Week 1


In-class screening: Newsreel, “Our Jamaican Problem” British Pathé“ (1954)

♫ Soundtrack: “Island in the Sun,” Harry Belafonte (1957) ♫


Week 2



The Twin Island of Caribbean Collusion and Calypso Signal and Noise

Week 3 (Efosi)



GUEST SPEAKER: Minkah Makalani (Professor, UT Austin)

Digital Mapping Lab Session: Guest Instructor: GIS Specialist, Michelle Thompson (Data Services, NYU)


Week 4 (Michelle)


  • Krik? Krak!, Edwidge Danticat (1995) “Children of the Sea” (Classes)
  • How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie), from The New Yorker (1995)
  • Édouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation (Classes)
  • Paintings, Edouard Duval-Carrié, Jean Michel Basquiat (posted on blog)

  • ♫ Soundtrack: “La Rebelion,” Joe Arroyo    ♫                               

GUEST SPEAKER: Alicia Grullón (Artist, Hemispheric Institute)

Archipelagic Futures and Futurity: Race, Gender, & Sexuality


Class Meets on Tuesday


  • Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place
  • Meet at 4:45 in the Media Immersion Room (Bobst Library), Watch Life and Debt, (Dir. Stephanie Black, 2000)
  • Take Home Midterm Distributed

Week 6(Kevwe + Harmony)


  • Julian Henriques, Sonic Bodies,  Introduction, Chapter 1
  • Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic,  Chapter 1
  • “Girl,” Jamaica Kincaid (1978) (audio read by Edwidge Danticat)
  • Audre Lorde, “Uses of the Erotic
  • Piri Thomas, “Down These Mean Streets”

Mr. Chin/ Ms. Chin: Queering the Chinese Shopkeeper in Caribbean

Week 7 ( Amodhya,  Matt + Massiel))


  • Focus on Midterm and the Mapping Project Implementation, 
  • Continue class discussion of assigned works we have not talked about yet.
    • Julian Henriques, Sonic Bodies,  Introduction, Chapter 1
    • Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic,  Chapter 1
    • “Girl,” Jamaica Kincaid (1978) (audio read by Edwidge Danticat)
    • Audre Lorde, “Uses of the Erotic
    • Piri Thomas, “Down These Mean Streets”

**Take Home Midterm DUE**

Week 8 (Tatyana +Zainab + Eva)


  • Patricia Powell, The Pagoda
  • Eddie Bruce-Jones, “India Has Left Us” (poem to be uploaded to Classes)
  • Video Homework: Vice, “Young and Gay: Jamaica’s Gully Queens” (25 minutes)

GUEST SPEAKERS: Dash Harris, (Afro-Latino Travel -Skype)

Robert Wesley Anthony Taylor (Queeribbean, NYU) 


Week 9 (Jesse + Moriah)


Digital Mapping Lab Class 

Noise Uprising, Michael Denning, Read Introduction

  • Patricia Powell, The Pagoda (CONTINUED)

THESIS WRITING WORKSHOP: READ APPENDIX + George Orwell’s Politics of the English Language.


Week 10 (Awura + Mahalet)



Photography: Albert Chong

Paintings: Wilfredo Lam (Blog)

♫ Soundtrack: “Mr. Chin,” Yellowman (1980) 

GUEST SPEAKER: Grace Aneiza Ali (Curator, NYU) Look at the Instagram account of Guyana Modern


Week 11 (Xiaolong + Elliot)


Ian Fleming, Dr. No (film) In-Class

Listen to Dr. No soundtrack.

Recommended: Read Dr. No the novel (1958)

♫ Soundtrack: “007 (Shanty Town),” Desmond Dekker (1969) “Kingston Calypso,” Byron Lee and the Dragonaires (1962), “Oh Calypso (Wo ai ka li su),” Grace Chang (1956) ♫


Reggae and Rudeboys: The Country and the City from Kingston to San Juan

Week 12 (Sophia + Naomi M + Hawau)

11/ 26

  • Perry Henzel, The Harder They Come – Watch before class on Reserve at Bobst or on Kanopy. 
  • Listen to entire soundtrack
  • Pedro Pietri, “Puerto Rican Obituary” 
  • “Coda,” Dub, Michael Veal
  • ♫ Soundtrack: “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” Jimmy Cliff (1972), “A Message To You Rudy,” The Specials (1979) ♫
  • Write a one-sentence thesis statement about Dr. No

GUEST SPEAKERS: Felicia Chang and Zaake DeConinck of Plantain. Omar Dauhajre (DJ, NYU)  and Melissa Fuster-Rivera (Professor, Queen College, CUNY)


Week 13


♫ Digital Mapping Decolonial Routes Presentations  ♫ *SCA Flex Space*


Week 14

12 / 10

Digital Draft Workshop – Peer Review 


Final Paper due: December 17, EMAIL INSTRUCTOR

5 pages (double spaced)


This syllabus and lecture materials will be made available in alternative formats upon request. Academic accommodations are available for students with disabilities. Please contact NYU’s Henry and Lucy Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (Phone and TTY: 212.998.4980) to establish eligibility and to coordinate reasonable accommodations. The Center is located at 726 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10003. For additional information please refer to its website: