Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


English (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Sandra Pouchet Paquet

Second Committee Member

Tim Watson

Third Committee Member

Lillian Manzor

Fourth Committee Member

Shalini Puri


Theatre of the Arts: Caribbean Intertextuality and the Muse of Place is a literary geography that explores how specific environments shape imaginative interventions into history and language. I begin by examining the unity of Derek Walcott's vision of the sea, tracing its ties to oral history, literary canon, and personal reveries of emplacement in Omeros and other epic-minded poems. I follow the sea to its continental origins, examining the Guyanas, an Amazonian bioregion on the borderlands of Guyana, Brazil, and Venezuela, as a place imaginatively remapped by twentieth-century novelists Alejo Carpentier, Wilson Harris, Mario de Andrade, and Pauline Melville. I read these novels, "listening" for the indigenous voice, to argue that they function as dramatic literature in their respective engagements with an oral literary tradition. My analysis moves through the archipelago, engaging the island trope to explore the embodied discourse of contemporary dance. I focus primarily on Rex Nettleford's technique and choreography for Jamaica's National Dance Theatre Company, but draw comparisons to Caribbean and North American choreographers as well as authors, to show that his choreography demonstrates symbolic indigeneity while also fostering ties to a cross-cultural community. In reading across space and genre, I adopt the interdisciplinary and cross-cultural thinking I see in Wilson Harris's idea of a theatre of the arts as my point of departure. I use performance studies to show that an imaginative engagement across the creative arts provides a language to explore and represent experience in situ. My dissertation is most innovative in that it puts epic poetry, the novel of the Americas, and choreography in dialogue as performance texts that recover and write the embodied memories and traditions silenced by History. In the end, my project shows that the emplacement of a culture in a living artistic tradition and a living landscape nourishes a creative consciousness that discovers and activates new relationships in time and space.


Islands; The Guyanas; The Sea; Caribbean Performing Arts; Caribbean Literature