Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Lucie Brind'amour


This dissertation proposes to derive a critical reading from the writings of the Martinican poet, novelist, and theorist, Edouard Glissant. This reading would most directly involve, but not limit itself to, literatures written by black writers from the Caribbean and the United States. As critics such as Christopher Miller and Anthony Appiah suggest, these literatures have become the ground upon which colonization is symbolically re-enacted. Criticism colonizes these literatures by its textual appropriation, its imposition of Western critical models, and by bringing its own assumptions to the text. The critically acclaimed prefaces of Jean-Paul Sartre ("Orphee noire") and Andre Breton ("Un grand poete noir") exemplify critical readings which colonize the text. In response to Sartre and Breton's readings and the critical precedent they set, Glissant's theoretical works provide the critical base for a reading that decolonizes the text. The primary purpose of a glissantian reading is to locate the literary work in its historical, social and cultural context. Glissant's conception of history, literature, and his model for a Caribbean cultural identity, antillantite, as exposed in his seminal work, Le Discours Antillais (Caribbean Discourse), and as illustrated by his novel La Lezarde (The Ripening), will provide the critical underpinnings of the literary analyses throughout this study. Glissant's influence manifests itself in the works of a new generation of Martinican writers--Jean Bernabe, Raphael Confiant, and Patrick Chamoiseau--who engage the models and concepts he has set forth--antillanite and la poetique de la relation--as the point of departure for their theoretical and literary conceptualization of creolite. However, Glissant's poetics of the relation also provides a crucial base which enables criticism to cross Dubois' "color line" and envision a depassement of racial barriers as the analyses of the intertextual relationships manifest in the works of Toni Morrison, Patrick Chamoiseau, and William Faulkner prove.