University of Iowa

Island Topographies: Mapping Caribbean Ecopoetics

Spring 2011 Lecture Series of the Caribbean, Diaspora and Atlantic Studies Program

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"Deforestation and the Yearning for Lost Landscapes in Caribbean Literatures"

When: Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Where: 315 PH
Who: Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert
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From a very early stage in the development of Caribbean literature, its writers have explored the relationship between colonialism and the environment, unveiling the environmental threat posed by continued deforestation on the wake of the Colombian encounter. Through a panoramic look at key texts in Caribbean literature, this lecture addresses, among other topics, the importance of the forests as symbols and realities in post-independence national formations. The forests emerge in the literatures of the Caribbean as new Edens, as alternatives to the sugar plantation, and as vital elements in environmental sustainability.

Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert is Professor of Caribbean culture and literature in the Department of Hispanic Studies at Vassar College. She is also the Director of Environmental Studies and Director of Latin American and Latino/a Studies. Her publications include Phyllis Shand Allfrey: A Caribbean Life (1996), Jamaica Kincaid: A Critical Companion (1999), Creole Religions of the Caribbean (2003, with Margarite Fernández Olmos), and Literatures of the Caribbean (2008). She has co-edited Sacred Possessions: Vodou, Santería, Obeah, and the Caribbean (1997) and Displacements and Transformations in Caribbean Cultures (2008).


"The Metaphysics of Nature in the Poetry of Derek Walcott"

When: Friday, April 29, 2011, 1 p.m.
Where: 315 Phillips Hall
Who: George Handley
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This talk will focus on the clash between materialism and metaphysics in the natural world in Derek Walcott’s recent poetry, as well as in some of his unpublished work. Walcott was winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992.

George Handley is professor of humanities at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.


K-6 Summer Reading Program: Carnivale!

Photo credit: Stephen Schmidt
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July 28, 2011

The Iowa City Public Library celebrated the end of the Summer Reading Program with a Caribbean Carnival extravaganza. Costumes and masks are designed by CDA co-director and U of I Theater Arts professor Loyce Arthur, assisted by former students Emma Tremmel, Nora Murphy, and Becky Bodurtha.

Over 200 parents and children created their own masks, listened to a Trinidad carnival tale that Professor Arthur had written, and then joined in the giant carnival parade on the Ped Mall.


Lecture presented by Raúl Marrero Fente

Associate Professor of Spanish and Law
The University of Minnesota

Topic: Silvestre de Balboa’s Epic Poem, Espejo de Ecopoetics as a Site of Transatlanic Exchange Between Spain and Cuba
Date: Thursday Oct. 27
Time: 3:30-5 p.m.
Location: 315 Phillips Hall
Contact: Adriana Mendez, 319-335-2230,

A renowned colonialist, Marrero Fente has published a 2010 critical edition of “Espejo de paciencia” (1608), an epic poem that depicts tropical nature in baroque style and is considered the first work of Cuban literature. He is the author of numerous studies on colonial Latin American literature, transatlantic studies, and literature and the law, including “Bodies, Texts, and Ghosts: Writing on Literature and Law in Colonial Latin America” (2010) and “Epic, Empire and Community in the Atlantic World” (2008).


Guest Lecture by Oonya Kempadoo

Costume I, Theatre Arts Department
Date: November 1, 2011
“Working for Carnival Designer, Peter Minshall in Trinidad”

Oonya KEMPADOO (fiction writer, nonfiction writer; Grenada) has worked with UNICEF and UNAIDS in Grenada and in Trinidad. Her writing has appeared in the collections Trinidad Noir, Caribbean Dispatches, Stories From Blue Lattitudes, and the literary magazine The Bomb. Her first novel, Buxton Spice (1998), was long-listed for the Orange Prize and translated into six languages. She has just completed a screen adaptation for her second novel, Tide Running (2001). She participates courtesy of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.


Ida Beam lecture by Latin percussionist Michael Spiro

“Lessons Learned in Cuba: Integrating Traditional Wisdom with Modern Pedagogy”
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 7
Time: Noon
Location: University Capitol Centre International Commons, Room 1117

Spiro’s presentation will explore how his ideas on teaching have evolved and developed as a result of his early visits to Cuba, especially in relation to his work developing curriculum in higher education institutions.

Spiro is professor of world percussion in the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. He has traveled annually to Cuba since 1984.

This lecture is sponsored by the Caribbean, Diaspora and Atlantic Studies program within International Programs; the Division of Performing Arts in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and the Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professorships Program.


Master Artists of The Bahamas exhibition in Iowa

Bahamian Art is proudly on display in one of the most prestigious galleries in the US. A group of some of the most talented Bahamian visual artists opened the MASTER ARTISTS OF THE BAHAMAS Exhibition and Symposium in the United States at the Waterloo Center for the Arts (WCA) in Waterloo, Iowa in October 2011.

Exhibition Dates: October 14, 2011 - January 31, 2012.

Click HERE to view Master Artists of The Bahamas exhibition on WCA's website.
For the original report go here.