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Order, Disorder, and Reorder: The Paradox of Creole Representations in Caribbeana (1741)

  • Jo Anne Harris
Chapter
Part of the New Caribbean Studies book series (NCARS)

Abstract

Throughout the seventeenth and early eighteenth century, British West Indian colonies were as important to the expanding British Empire as those on the North American mainland. However, writing authored in the West Indies has been conspicuously absent from most anthologies of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British and American literature. Thus, it may be argued that Caribbeana (1741), a collection of entries first printed by Samuel Keimer in the Barbados Gazette (1732–38), pioneers as the first English language anthology of West Indian poetry, essays, and letters – literary artifacts both written and published in the West Indies. In addition, the Barbados Gazette is historically important as Barbados’ first newspaper and the first bi-weekly newspaper in the Americas.

Enormously popular throughout the British West Indies, the Gazette served as the primary medium of literary exchange between Barbados, neighboring islands, the American colonies, and London. As creoles acquired an increased sense of community, their societies constituted a paradox of stability and menace within the British Empire. In response to this phenomenon, many of the early entries published in the Barbados Gazette reflected attempts to reinforce the colonists’ “Englishness” and equality within the empire; hence, early writings reveal a decidedly imperial perspective and literary style. However, as the newspaper gained popularity and creoles acquired the legal, political, and cultural means to act as agents for their own economic interests, the essays, poetry, and debates published reflected a changing tone and shifting viewpoints – viewpoints that frequently contested Parliamentary authority and the application of English laws.

This chapter looks at the role of colonial newspapers with Caribbeana and the Barbados Gazette as representative of an evolution in Anglophone West Indian writing. I argue that as creoles challenged imperial authority and responded to London’s metropolitan discourse, both the Barbados Gazette and Caribbeana reflected the genesis of a literary metamorphosis from imperial to creole.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jo Anne Harris
    • 1
  1. 1.Georgia Gwinnett CollegeLawrencevilleUSA

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