The first book on pan-Caribbean life writing, Dreams of Archives Unfolded reveals the innovative formal practices used to write about historical absences within contemporary personal narratives. Although the premier genres of writing postcoloniality in the Caribbean have been understood to be fiction and poetry, established figures such as Erna Brodber, Maryse Condé, Lorna Goodison, Edwidge Danticat, Saidiya Hartmann, Ruth Behar, and Dionne Brand and emerging writers such as Yvonne Shorter Brown, and Gaiutra Bahadur use life writing to question the relationship between the past and the present. Stitt theorizes that the remarkable flowering of life writing by Caribbean women since 2000 is not an imitation of the “memoir boom” in North America and Europe; instead, it marks a different use of the genre born out of encountering gendered absences in archives and ancestral memory that cannot be filled with more research. Dreams of Archives makes a significant contribution to studies of Caribbean literature by demonstrating that women’s autobiographical narratives published in the past twenty years are feminist epistemological projects that rework Caribbean studies’ longstanding commitment to creating counter-archives.
About the Author
Jocelyn Fenton Stitt is Division Chair of Social Sciences. Associate Professor of Women’s Studies, and affiliated faculty in Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity, at St. Catherine University. Previously she was Director of Faculty Research Development at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, University of Michigan. She coedited Mothers Who Deliver: Feminist Interventions in Public and Interpersonal Discourse (2010) and Before Windrush: Recovering a Black and Asian Literary Heritage within Britain (2008).
"Introducing an innovative theoretical framing of long-standing critical debates about history, biography, archive, and belonging, this lucid study of Caribbean women’s life-writing points to their remarkable contributions to new modes of knowledge production about the past and its aporias. Stitt’s analyses of the writers’ imaginative formal strategies are a timely and valuable intervention in Caribbean and Gender Studies." — Françoise Lionnet
"In Dreams of Archives Unfolded, Jocelyn Stitt answers the 'Caribbean quarrel with history' by convincingly arguing for the place of contemporary Caribbean women's memoir, from across its diasporas and linguistic schisms, as integral to the constitution of our archives, past and future. A well-argued work which will open new vistas for scholars of women's life-writing and Caribbean studies in the, hoped for, decolonial future." — Myriam J. A. Chancy