Psychoanalysis in Caribbean Literature

Authored by: Whitney Bly Edwards

The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature

Print publication date:  June  2011
Online publication date:  June  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415485777
eBook ISBN: 9780203830352
Adobe ISBN: 9781136821745


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Psychoanalysis is, arguably, an underused critical approach in Caribbean literature. Though its underutilization cannot easily be explained by one factor or another, some literary deployments of psychoanalysis itself might be seen as privileging examinations of the universality of literature, or a Western-based model of family and individual identity, that may be considered too non-specific to be useful in criticism of a body of literature, such as Caribbean literature, that emphasizes particularized experiences with regard to geographic location, history and culture. Specifically, Caribbean approaches to psychoanalysis are closely connected to the process of healing psyches that have been subjected to the inequality, violence and subjugation of the colonial system. Given this, this chapter will demonstrate ways in which psychoanalysis provides a fruitful area of possibility for reading Caribbean literature, especially as it enables innovative applications of postcolonial and feminist criticism, two major areas of study in this field. In order to illustrate this point, I will identify Caribbean texts that are well-suited to applications of psychoanalytic criticism, as well as previous psychoanalytic readings of Caribbean literature. In addition, this chapter will also indicate new directions for the utilization of psychoanalysis in connection to this body of literature.

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