Common Places

The Poetics of African Atlantic Postromantics


While a great deal of postcolonial criticism has examined how the processes of hybridity, mestizaje, creolization, and syncretism impact African diasporic literature, Oakley employs the heuristic of the “commonplace” to recast our sense of the politics of such literature. Her analysis of commonplace poetics reveals that postcolonial poetic and political moods and aspirations are far more complex than has been admitted. African Atlantic writers summon the utopian potential of Romanticism, which had been stricken by Anglo-European exclusiveness and racial entitlement, and project it as an attainable, differentially common future. Putting poets Frankétienne (Haiti), Werewere Liking (Côte d’Ivoire), Derek Walcott (St Lucia), and Claudia Rankine (Jamaica) in dialogue with Romantic poets and theorists, as well as with the more recent thinkers Édouard Glissant, Walter Benjamin, and Emmanuel Levinas, Oakley shows how African Atlantic poets formally revive Romantic forms, ranging from the social utopian manifesto to the poète maudit, in their pursuit of a redemptive allegory of African Atlantic experiences. Common Places addresses issues in African and Caribbean literary studies, Romanticism, poetics, rhetorical theory, comparative literature, and translation theory, and further, models a postcolonial critique in the aesthetic-ethical and “new aestheticist” vein.
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Table of contents

Introduction: Out of the Abyss: Commonplaces of Repetition and Redemption
Glissant’s Common Places
Walcott’s Allegory of History
A Backward Faith in Walcott’s “The Schooner Flight
Claudia Rankine: Jane Eyre’s Blues at The End of the Alphabet
Dear Diary: A Manifesto – Werewere Liking’s Elle sera de jaspe et de corail
Ritualizing Utopia in Elle sera de jaspe et de corail
Masks of Affliction in Frankétienne’s Haiti
Frankétienne’s Logorrhea: An Excess of Seeming
Afterword: “The Horizon Devours My Voice”: Notes on Translation