Date of Degree

6-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Peter Hitchcock

Subject Categories

Comparative Literature | French and Francophone Literature | Latina/o Studies

Keywords

Paul Laraque, Surrealism, Andre Breton, Haiti, Atlantic studies

Abstract

Many theoretical treatments of Caribbean and Latin American surrealism(s), most notably Fredric Jameson and Alejo Carpentier’s foundational essays on magical realism, argue that the surrealism of the European metropole is a sophisticated avant-garde movement, in contrast to the blunt tool of Caribbean and Latin American surrealism which reaches back toward a precolonial past in order to bolster a nationalist project. Existing critical writing about Paul Laraque, a Haitian poet and surrealist identifies Laraque as Haitian first and foremost: as a political poet using surrealism solely in support of a nationalist project. This reading of Laraque’s work fails to reckon with Laraque’s literary and personal relations with French surrealists in the Caribbean, particularly André Breton, as well as his subsequent exile in New York and his close affective ties and correspondence with Beat poets and the American avant-garde. In this thesis, I propose a project that positions Paul Laraque’s work as not merely a Haitian nationalist project but as also embedded within a network of Atlantic and diasporic flows and counterflows. In doing so, I will consider existing theoretical work suggesting this cross-Atlantic network and will re-read Laraque’s life and poetry in support of this conceptual understanding of the avant-garde.

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