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In memoriam: Martin Mordecai 1942-2021

The Editorial Team of the Journal of West Indian Literature, as well as many of our advisors and readers, were saddened to hear about the death of Martin Mordecai in Canada. The father of Rachel Mordecai, who served as a JWIL Editor for many years, and the husband of Pam Mordecai and brother-in-law of Betty Wilson (both contributors to JWIL and the editors of one of the first anthologies of Caribbean women’s writing, Her True True Name), Martin Mordecai was a Jamaican man of words. He worked as a journalist, a civil servant, was one of the main forces behind the publisher Sandberry Press and was an excellent photographer, a poet and a novelist. He published a young-adult novel, Blue Mountain Trouble, and co-authored Culture and Customs of Jamaica with Pam but his place in West Indian literature was consolidated by his historical novel, Free, described by Nalo Hopkinson as “an astounding act of remembrance.” We extend heartfelt sympathy to his family and friends.

Call for Papers: Special April 2022 Issue on Kamau Brathwaite

Engaging Kamau Brathwaite:

This special issue of the Journal of West Indian Literature seeks papers and reflections on the work of Kamau Brathwaite, situating the writer/poet/scholar and his work within the canons of Caribbean, American, African-American, and/or postcolonial literature. In particular, we are interested in contributions that consider how, and why, we can/should/do engage Brathwaite’s work in our writing, research, and teaching today, a half-century after his first major publication.

With significant ties to Barbados, Jamaica, England, and Ghana, Kamau Brathwaite represents a truly transnational intellectual, though it may be argued that the Caribbean region was always the center – the groundation – of his thought processes. He has made major contributions across several fields and disciplines with his creative and critical writings, as well as his organizational, pedagogical, and editorial work. Thus, Brathwaite and his work may be engaged on/from multiple dimensions as relevant to contemporary conversations about race, region, rhythm, and representation. This special issue seeks to present that range of relevance to scholarship, service, and teaching today. We are open to scholarly papers and reflections that position Brathwaite’s work(s) as frame and/or focus for a central argument. We are especially interested in submissions that consider:

– Brathwaite’s less studied texts,

– his work as an editor and teacher,

– his influence on later generations of Caribbean writers, and/or

– approaches to teaching his writings.

While the Journal of West Indian Literature focuses primarily on literary topics, given Brathwaite’s own mixed methodologies, this special issue will necessarily include interdisciplinary engagements with his work.

Prospective contributors should email 300-500 word abstracts, along with a short bio, by 1 April 2021. Responses to abstract submissions will be sent by 1 May 2021 and final versions of accepted papers will be due 1 September 2021. Please send abstracts and all inquiries to Kelly Baker Josephs (

Deadline for abstracts and bio: 1 April 2021

Full papers due: 1 September 2021

Publication: April 2022

About the special issue editor: Kelly Baker Josephs is Professor of English at York College, City University of New York, and Professor of English and digital humanities at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is the author of Disturbers of the Peace: Representations of Insanity in Anglophone Caribbean Literature (2013) and co-editor of the forthcoming collection, The Digital Black Atlantic, part of the Debates in the Digital Humanities series.

In memoriam: Zee Edgell (21 Oct 1940 – 20 Dec 2020)

JWIL mourns the passing of the great Caribbean writer Zee Edgell. She is celebrated for her books Beka Lamb (1982), In Times like These (1991), The Festival of San Joaquin (1997) and Time and the River (2007). She was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2007 and retired from her role as Professor of English at Kent State University in 2009. Her novel Beka Lamb, which elucidated the colonial, patriarchal and class pressures on Caribbean women, continues to influence generations of readers. Here are some reflections on this important figure from her daughter, Holly Edgell.

The University of Chicago’s Department of English invites applications for Ph.D. candidacy in Black studies for the 2020-2021 admission cycle

The University of Chicago’s Department of English has announced that, for the 2020-2021 admission cycle, they will be admitting only students working in and with Black studies. They also highlight their particular strength in the area of Caribbean studies, with a growing group of Caribbeanist faculty across methods, languages, and periods, including Jessica Baker (Music), Ryan Cecil Jobson (Anthropology) Sarah Jessica Johnson (English), Agnes Lugo-Ortiz (Romance Languages and Literatures), Danielle Roper (Romance Languages and Literatures), Chris Taylor (English), and Kaneesha Parsard (English). For more details about the initiative, see here.

The Caribbean Digital VII to be held virtually, with three asynchronous digital community projects and a synchronous gathering on December 4, 2020

From the organizers –

“This year, the seventh annual Caribbean Digital event will be held virtually, with three asynchronous digital community projects and a synchronous gathering.

Currently, we are in the midst of collecting entries for one of the three community projects, our Directory of Caribbean Digital Scholarship. To suggest projects for inclusion in the Directory, you are invited to add links and annotations to our master spreadsheet between October 26 and November 20. 

We are also gearing up for our Collective Annotation of Aimé Césaire’s Notebook of a Return to My Native Land, which will run November 16 to 20. This event offers our community an opportunity to engage Césaire’s work in ways that will generate an original textual artifact. Please sign up here to receive timely information regarding participation in this venture.

Our third valence, a Keyword Collection for Caribbean Studies, initiates a collaborative exploration of words that serve as rich sites for research and pedagogy in Caribbean Studies. This collection is intended to be the beginning of a project that will grow with future Caribbean Digital events.

We are excited to work on these three projects with you. Please contact us at if you have questions and/or wish to participate. All three ventures will be launched synchronously at the Caribbean Digital event on 4 December 2020, 1p-2p EST, which you can register for here.”

Dr. Ronald Cummings joins JWIL editorial team

The JWIL editorial team is very pleased to announce that we have welcomed aboard a new member of the collective – Dr. Ronald Cummings. Dr. Cummings is Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literatures at Brock University, Canada. His research focuses on critical Maroon studies, gender and sexuality studies and on Caribbean literary historiography. He is co-editor (with Alison Donnell) of Caribbean Literature in Transition, 1970-2020 (Cambridge University Press, 2021). We are thrilled to have his expertise and commitment to Caribbean studies be a part of our collective work.

In memoriam: Edward Kamau Brathwaite 1930-2020

JWIL mourns the loss of Kamau Brathwaite, one of Caribbean poetry’s giants and a lodestar for so many of us Caribbean literary scholars. His contributions to the urgent and continuing project of decolonization continue to awe, move and inspire legions.

Here are a few of the tributes to this remarkable life and career:

In memoriam: Dr. Victor Chang

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of one of our own, our longstanding Editor, colleague and friend, Dr. Victor Chang. Dr. Chang dedicated himself to JWIL‘s life and influence for over twenty years, serving first as Co-Editor from 1987-2002 and then as Editor-in-Chief from 2002-2009. Dr. Chang also provided the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, and its Department of Literatures in English with distinguished and dedicated service for thirty-two years. From 1990-1994, he served on the Executive of the University of the West Indies Publisher’s Association, a position in which he further facilitated the publication of Caribbean scholarly work. Dr. Chang was also a Co-Editor of CARIB, and was a Guest Editor of the Caribbean Quarterly issue “The Chinese in the Caribbean”, and Kunapipi XIV.2 (1992). He also helped provide a much needed outlet for writers of fiction and poetry during his twenty-five-year stint as Editor of Pathways, a journal of creative writing. Dr. Chang’s academic career was characterized by involvement with the wider community and beyond having served as a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Hull, England in 1981, carried out assignments with the Ministry of Education in Jamaica and Jamaica Festival. For some 20 years, he was a contributor to the National Association for Teachers of English Workshops and was Assistant Chief Examiner in English Literature with the Caribbean Examinations Council from 1987-1992. He also gave record service to the West Indian Association for Commonwealth Language and Literature Studies (WIACLALS), serving as Chairman from 1994-2006, as Secretary and Treasurer from 2007-2009, and as Secretary from 1981-1992, a total period of twenty-five years. We at JWIL, along with the broader Caribbean literary and academic community, deeply mourn his untimely loss.

In memoriam: J. Michael Dash

JWIL shares in the deep sadness of the broader Caribbean intellectual and cultural community at the passing of Professor J. Michael Dash, who died on 2nd June 2019 in New York City. Born in Trinidad and Tobago and educated at the University of the West Indies, Professor Dash was an eminent scholar of francophone Caribbean literature and in particular of Édouard Glissant, whose work Dash also translated.

Related links here:

Repeating Islands obituary

Mediapart obituary (in French)

Dash’s NYU faculty page

Public Archive interview with Dash from 2012


CFP: West Indian Literature Conference, University of Guyana, 17-20 Oct 2019

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 20 June 2019

Notification of acceptance: 30 June 2019

Submissions are invited for the 38th Annual West Indian Literature Conference, to take place at the Turkeyen Campus of the University of Guyana, 17-20 October 2019.

The conference theme is “HINTERLANDS: Journeys of the Imagination,” which in the words of the organizers “will include the foundations: some special attention to the heritage(s) of Wilson Harris, Derek Walcott, V.S. Naipaul”; a focus on film and technology; and examinations of the Guyanese experience.

Papers on the following themes are also especially welcome:

  • images
  • the visual arts (the fine arts)
  • oral literature
  • performance traditions
  • theatre
  • dance hall
  • chutney
  • soca
  • spoken word and performance poetry
  • creole languages

More information here: WILC 2019 CFP