Caribbean-Area Literatures in English

Works in section R: Other Literatures in English/General are important to research in Caribbean-area literatures.

Guides to Reference Works


Hallewell, L. ““English-Speaking Caribbean Literature”.” Latin America and the Caribbean: A Critical Guide to Research Sources. Ed. Paula H. Covington. New York: Greenwood, 1992. 495–501. Bibliogs. and Indexes in Latin Amer. and Caribbean Studies 2. Z1601.L3225 [F1408] 016.98.

An annotated guide to bibliographies, biographical resources, and other reference works for the study of English-language Caribbean literature. Hallewell’s clear annotations frequently point up strengths and weaknesses of a resource; the list offers the best guide to reference sources for this literature.


Methods in Caribbean Research: Literature, Discourse, Culture. Ed. Barbara Lalla, Nicole Roberts, Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw, and Valerie Youssef. Kingston: U of the West Indies P, 2013. 287 pp. PN849.C3 M485 2013.

A resource that explores the nuances and complexities of research in literary scholarship and cultural studies in the Caribbean. It is composed of two main parts: “Research Methodology” and “The Research Process.” The first part is further divided into “Conceptual Frames” (theory, cultural studies, culturometrics, criticism), “Methods of Research Data Analysis” (fieldwork, special collections, creative writing research), and “Methods of Research Application and Analysis” (oral histories and sound, text analysis); the second part is divided into practical steps in research: topics, the proposal, the thesis, and finishing and proofreading.

This volume covers the intricacies and opportunities in Caribbean research and brings together a range of methodologies, approaches, and processes. Although it is clearly focused on a place and culture, much of the advice in this book would be of use in other areas of study.

Includes a list of resources and short academic biographies of contributors.

Literary Handbooks, Dictionaries, and Encyclopedias


Herdeck, Donald E., ed. Caribbean Writers: A Bio-bibliographical–Critical Encyclopedia. Washington: Three Continents, 1979. 943 pp. PN849.C3 C3 809′.89729.

A biographical and bibliographical guide to Caribbean literature in four parts: anglophone literature, francophone literature, Netherlands Antilles and Suriname, and Spanish-language literature. Each part begins with an overview of the social, linguistic, and literary history of the area and a list of writers by country or region; each concludes with various bibliographies of primary works and studies. The bulk of the work consists of author entries that provide basic biographical and career information, occasional critical comments, and an incomplete list of primary works and a highly selective list of studies. Because of the organization and incomplete cross-referencing of pseudonyms and variant forms of names, an author index would make entries much easier to locate. The work is inconsistent in places and stylistically wooden but is packed with information; it offers the fullest general guide to Caribbean writers and their work. Review: Marian Goslinga, Revista interamericana de bibliografía 30.2 (1980): 183–84.

More current information on the writers included can be found in Daryl Cumber Dance, ed., Fifty Caribbean Writers: A Bio-bibliographical Critical Sourcebook (New York: Greenwood, 1986; 530 pp.). Each essay provides a biography, discussion of major works, survey of important scholarship, and selected bibliography of primary and secondary sources. Indexed in Biography and Genealogy Master Index (J565).

Neither of the preceding is superseded by Encyclopedia of Caribbean Literature, ed. D. H. Figueredo, 2 vols. (Westport: Greenwood, 2006), which—as Michael Dash point out—omits important writers and topics, ignores important scholarship, and is sometimes superficial or incorrect. Review: Michael Dash, TLS: Times Literary Supplement 23 June 2006: 28.

Bibliographies of Bibliographies


Jordan, Alma, and Barbara Comissiong. The English-Speaking Caribbean: A Bibliography of Bibliographies. Boston: Hall, 1984. 411 pp. Reference Pub. in Latin Amer. Studies. Z1595.J67 [F2161] 016.0169729.

A bibliography of published and unpublished national, regional, and topical bibliographies available through April 1981 on British Caribbean territories. Works are listed alphabetically by author, editor, or sponsoring organization under variously classified divisions, with the following of most interest to language and literature researchers: library catalogs; regional, national, and general bibliographies; biography (including several literary authors); folklore; history; language and linguistics; and literature. The literature division includes sections for general works, criticism, drama, fiction, indexes, periodicals, poetry, and countries or areas. Entries are accompanied by full descriptions of content and locations of copies (principally in Caribbean libraries). Two indexes: names; subjects. Although some classifications could be more refined and the coverage of parts of books is weak, English-Speaking Caribbean is an essential source for the identification and location of bibliographies treating the Caribbean (many of which are mimeographed works of severely limited distribution). A quick perusal will reveal how much basic bibliographical work remains to be done on Caribbean literatures.

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism

Serial Bibliographies


““Select Bibliography of the Literature of the English-Speaking West Indies, [1986–88]”.” Journal of West Indian Literature 3.1–4.2 (1989–90). PR9214.5.J6 820.6.

A selective, unannotated bibliography of primary and secondary works relating to the literatures of the English-speaking Caribbean. Entries are listed alphabetically in divisions for anthologies, drama, fiction, essays and nonfiction, poetry, bibliography, interviews, reviews, and criticism (with sections for general studies and individual authors).

Some additional studies are included in “Studies in Caribbean and South American Literature: An Annual Annotated Bibliography, [1985–92],” Callaloo 9–16 (1986–93), and in “An Annual Bibliography of Afro-American Literature, [1975–76], with Selected Bibliographies of African and Caribbean Literature,” CLA Journal 20–21 (1976–77).

See also

Secs. G: Serial Bibliographies, Indexes, and Abstracts and H: Guides to Dissertations and Theses.

ABELL (G340): Entries on Caribbean writers and literature are dispersed throughout.

“Annual Bibliography of Commonwealth Literature” (R4375).

MLAIB (G335): English Literature division (especially English III: General) through the volume for 1956; English XI: Australia, Canada, Etc. section in the volumes for 1957–66; English II: Australia, Canada, Etc. section in the volumes for 1967–80; and the English Caribbean Literature division in later volumes. Researchers must also check the headings beginning “Caribbean” and “English Caribbean” in the subject index to post-1980 volumes and in the online thesaurus.

YWES (G330): Caribbean-area literatures have been covered in the chapter “African, Caribbean, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and Indian Literature in English” since vol. 63 (for 1982).

Other Bibliographies


Allis, Jeannette B. West Indian Literature: An Index to Criticism, 1930–1975. Boston: Hall, 1981. 353 pp. Reference Pub. in Latin Amer. Studies. Z1502.B5 A38 [PR9210] 016.820′9′9729.

A highly selective bibliography of English-language books, a very few collections of essays, and articles from 77 journals and newspapers (with some coverage extending beyond 1975). Entries are organized in three divisions: the first includes studies of specific writers (with sections for general criticism and individual works); the last lists general studies by date of publication. The middle division repeats the entries in the other two as a scholar/critic list; a simple name index would accomplish the same in one-tenth of the 120 pages. General books on West Indian literature are relegated to an appendix. Only the entries in the third division are descriptively annotated, but the lack of an index means one must search through the entire list to find works that treat a particular writer or topic. The high degree of selectivity, lack of an adequate statement of criteria governing selection, poor organization, and lack of indexing make West Indian Literature useful only as an occasional supplement to New, Critical Writings on Commonwealth Literatures (R4380), and “Annual Bibliography of Commonwealth Literature” (R4375). Some additional studies can be found in Lambros Comitas, The Complete Caribbeana, 1800–1975: A Bibliographic Guide to the Scholarly Literature, 4 vols. (Millwood: KTO, 1977). In particular, see the following chapters in vol. 2: 22, “Creative Arts and Recreation” (including literature); 24, “Folklore”; and 25, “Language and Linguistics.” Theses and dissertations are listed in Samuel B. Bandara, “A Checklist of Theses and Dissertations in English on Caribbean Literature,” World Literature Written in English 20.2 (1981): 319–34.

See also

New, Critical Writings on Commonwealth Literatures (R4380).

Szwed and Abrahams, Afro-American Folk Culture (U5880).



Guides to Scholarship and Criticism

Williams, Emily Allen. Anglophone Caribbean Poetry, 1970–2001: An Annotated Bibliography. Westport: Greenwood, 2002. 191 pp. Bibliogs. and Indexes in World Lit. 57. Z1524.P6 W45 [PR9205.2] 016.821′54099729.

An annotated bibliography of English-language primary and secondary resources for the study of English-language poetry by authors resident in or originating from the former British Caribbean territories and the Virgin Islands of the United States. Entries are organized in seven sections: anthologies, reference works, conference proceedings, collected works by individual poets, criticism, interviews, and audio and audiovisual recordings. The brief descriptive annotations generally offer a minimal sense of a work’s content or thesis. Three indexes: authors (both of documents and as subjects); titles; subjects. The subject indexing—both in the authors and subjects indexes—is completely inadequate; users will simply have to skim all entries. Even skimming all the entries will give users only a limited sense of the published studies on a topic and affirm the author’s assertion that the primary criterion governing selection was “the accessibility of the material”: the reference works section omits such basic tools as “Select Bibliography of the Literature of the English Speaking West Indies” (R4787) and Allis, West Indian Literature (R4790); the conference proceedings section does not cite titles of essays (only a few of which are included in the criticism section); a five-minute search of the MLAIB (G335) identified numerous studies omitted from the criticism section. In short, Anglophone Caribbean Poetry, 1970–2001 offers only the most basic starting point for research in the field.