Making Men

Gender, Literary Authority, and Women’s Writing in Caribbean Narrative

Making Men

Book Pages: 240 Illustrations: Published: December 1998

Caribbean Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Sex and Sexuality, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

Colonialism left an indelible mark on writers from the Caribbean. Many of the mid-century male writers, on the eve of independence, looked to England for their models. The current generation of authors, many of whom are women, have increasingly looked—and relocated—to the United States. Incorporating postcolonial theory, West Indian literature, feminist theory, and African American literary criticism, Making Men carves out a particular relationship between the Caribbean canon—as represented by C. L. R. James and V. S. Naipaul, among others—and contemporary Caribbean women writers such as Jean Rhys, and Jamaica Kincaid, Paule Marshall, and Michelle Cliff, who now live in the United States.

Discussing the canonical Caribbean narrative as it reflects national identity under the domination of English cultural authority, Belinda Edmondson focuses particularly on the pervasive influence of Victorian sensibilities in the structuring of twentieth-century national identity. She shows that issues of race and English constructions of masculinity not only are central to West Indian identity but also connect Caribbean authorship to the English literary tradition. This perspective on the origins of West Indian literary nationalism then informs Edmondson’s search for female subjectivity in current literature by West Indian women immigrants in America. Making Men compares the intellectual exile of men with the economic migration of women, linking the canonical male tradition to the writing of modern West Indian women and exploring how the latter write within and against the historical male paradigm in the continuing process of national definition.
With theoretical claims that invite new discourse on English, Caribbean, and American ideas of exile, migration, race, gender identity, and literary authority, Making Men will be informative reading for those involved with postcolonial theory, African American and women’s studies, and Caribbean literature.


“[C]onvincing . . . . The thesis is absolutely fascinating, and I would add definitely convincing and generally clearly illustrated. . . . Making Men is a highly important and very timely work . . . . [H]er text [is] a must read for scholars of Caribbean literatures.” — Ifeoma C. K. Nwankwo , Callaloo

“[O]riginal and interesting. . . . [A]n important contribution to the field of Caribbean literature.” — Ymitri Jayasundera , South Atlantic Review

“[P]owerfully and persuasively argued and include[s] detailed studies of a number of lesser known texts.” — Suzanne Scafe , Ethnic and Racial Studies

“[R]ich account of twentieth-century Caribbean narrative in the anglophone context.” — Faith Smith, Research in African Literatures

“A well-researched, considered study, made all the more effective by Edmondson’s ability to deliberate on the individuality of the authors whilst reflecting upon their place within the greater Caribbean literary canon.” — British Bulletin of Publications

“Edmondson knows anglophone Caribbean writing inside and out. She has written an ambitious book that . . . succeeds, and often quite brilliantly so, in combining theoretical sophistication and energy with readability. Even audiences not steeped in current debates in Caribbean Studies are likely to find Making Men an accessible and enjoyable challenge.” — Vera M. Kutzinski , Journal of Colonialism & Colonial History

“Edmondson provides a well-documented, challenging look at West Indian letters. . . . Edmondson does not pit the writings of one gender against those of the other, but she sees their work as part of an ongoing process of delineating national identity.” — Choice

“In Making Men, Edmondson is most convincing in arguing that the early male-authored West Indian narratives fail under the discursive weight of their own nationalist narratives, which are burdened with Victorian ideologies. While these nationalist narratives remasculinized the Caribbean at the expense of women—black and white—and while they recommodified the folk even as they idealized Caribbean folk life, Edmondson argues, women’s narratives created entirely new paradigms of subjectivity and nationality. — Kathleen M. Balutansky , Signs

“Edmondson’s fascinating thesis is developed through a series of overlapping historical, sociological, and cultural arguments.” — Rhonda Cobham-Sander, Amherst College

“Enjoyable, refreshing, and provocative. . . this work offers important and long overdue assessments of postcolonial theory and Caribbean Anglophone literature.” — Jean D’Costa, co-author of Language in Exile: Three Hundred Years of Jamaican Creole


Availability: In stock
Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Belinda Edmondson is Associate Professor of English and African/African-American Studies at Rutgers University at Newark.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Writing the Caribbean: Gender and Literary Authority 1

Part I. Making Men: Writing the Nation 17

1 "Race-ing" the Nation: Englishness, Blackness, and the Discourse of Victorian Manhood 19

2 Literary Men and the English Canonical Tradition 38

3 Representing the Fold: The Crisis of Literary Authenticity 58

Part II. Writing Women: Making the Nation 79

4 Theorizing Caribbean Feminist Aesthetics 81

5 The Novel of Revolution and the Unrepresentable Black Woman 105

6 Return of the Native: Immigrant Women's Writing and the Narrative of Exile 139

Notes 169

Bibliography 205

Index 221
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2263-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2131-6
Publicity material