This essay argues for an archipelagic rethinking of Jean Rhys’s novel Wide Sargasso Sea, which has long had an uneasy fit into the category of Caribbean literature. It does so by drawing from archipelagic studies and its distinction between islands as discrete, closed-off landmasses and archipelagoes as interconnected, terraqueous topographies. Through close readings, the essay demonstrates how the Caribbean characters in the novel envision localness as an overlap between earthly materialities and contested epistemologies—an attitude the essay defines as “archipelagic provincialism.” The essay ultimately foregrounds archipelagic thinking as a way to recast the often pejorative idea of provincialism as well as offer a methodology for troubling the very idea of canonicity within Caribbean literature.
Wide Sargasso Sea’s Archipelagic Provincialism
Kathleen Deguzman is an assistant professor of English at San Francisco State University. Her research examines anglophone Caribbean literature, with particular interests in the novel, archipelagic studies, and the Caribbean’s links to the literary cultures of imperial Britain and the Asian Americas. Her work has been published in Anthurium, Studies in the Novel, and Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas.
Kathleen DeGuzman; Wide Sargasso Sea’s Archipelagic Provincialism. Small Axe 1 July 2019; 23 (2 (2)): 1–16. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-7703241
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