LITS6921: Writing Praxis


Christina Sharpe writes in In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, that “[we] must become undisciplined. The work we do requires new modes and methods of research and teaching; new ways of entering and leaving the archives of slavery, of undoing the ‘racial calculus and . . . political arithmetic that were entrenched centuries ago’ (Hartman 2008, 6) and that live into the present” (Kindle Locations 394-400). We may ask the following questions: What does it mean to become “undisciplined”? What does this mean for Caribbean thinkers, thinkers in the Caribbean, and thinkers on the Caribbean? Specifically, what does it mean for how we produce, present, and distribute new knowledge? What can these reflections and their related processes teach us about ourselves, how we’ve learned, and how we can radicalize contemporary Caribbean scholarship? What are the modes and methods that take us beyond ourselves and the terms that define who we are, as Sylvia Wynter suggests? These are philosophical questions, obviously, which align with our course objectives. The specific objective in this exercise is to deliberately upturn a given text (in this case, the image, film, readings, and ourselves) and use them to consider the way(s) we can “undiscipline” our understanding of, and approach to, intellectual work. 

Part One: Annotation (45 mins)

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View the film Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007), paying close attention to the “Calypso Scene.” Annotate a color reproduction of William Blake’s “Flagellation of a Female Samboe Slave” (1793) (Fig. 1), which appears in John Stedman’s Narrative of a Five Years’ Expedition against the Revolted Slaves of Surinam 1796. This will be primarily based on reader/viewer response. Be sure to make your annotations on the image, as it will form the material basis of your reflections and ideas about the image itself and the film, as well as the group discussion, individual reflection, and to research writing to follow.

Part Two: Workshopping the Research Question (30 mins)

Get into three groups of four. Following a brief discussion of the climactic “Calypso Scene” and both its direct and indirect relationships to the image, collaborate on the drafting of 3-5 critical questions that you think should be pursued based primarily on your in-class readings and the initial annotations you made on the image (Fig. 2). You can choose to pursue any angle you wish, but do keep in mind that what you ultimately pursue will be done in consultation with me.

Part Three: Layering and Reflection (15-20 mins)

On the top half of a blank notepad sheet, provide the following:

  1. A clear, detailed draft of the most salient Research Question based on your discussion. 
  2. A draft Abstract based on the Question you would like to pursue. 

When complete, you will share the description and draft for peer feedback. Note that this portion will be done individually and will be superimposed onto your annotated image.

Break (10 mins)

Part Four: Feedback I (10-15 mins)

On the Sticky Notes provided, give concise (but detailed) feedback on your peer’s Question and Draft Abstract. Consider the following: Is there a relevant Thesis Statement? Is it sophisticated and interesting? What works or not? How can it be improved? How can it be developed? Does it relate to/make use of the readings/concepts? You can utilize all the space, but no more. Number the note “Reader 1” and affix the note to the lower left-hand side of the bottom half of the page. Return the description and draft to their original author.

Part Five: Feedback II (15-20 mins)

For the Author: After you receive the feedback from your first peer, repeat Part Three with another peer, who will read your Question, draft Abstract, and the Feedback from your first reader. 

For Reader 2: In addition to the general feedback questions (see above), you will assess the quality of the feedback and provide a general assessment on the note provided. Number the note “Reader 2” and affix it to the lower right-hand side of the bottom half of the page. Return the description, draft, and “Reader 1” notes to their original author.

Part Five: Revision (10 mins)

Using the Index Card provided, revise your Abstract based on the feedback you received from Readers 1 & 2. Be sure to address recommendations for improvement and refinement. This will form the basis of your research component. On a second index card, compile a list of keywords that you believe are relevant to your research (e.g., abyss, fragmentation, trauma, “wake work,” etc.). On a third index card, write a brief reflective analysis of the specific process of revising your Abstract for submission. Together, these three index cards (numbered “Revision 1-3”) will be used in consultation with your peer groups before submission.

 Part Six: Review (5 mins)

On the Transparency provided, affix a sticky note with your Name, ID number, Course Listing (LITS6921).

Part Seven: Submission (1 week)

This Essay will be an expanded discussion of your Abstract (3,000-3,500 words) and an Annotated Bibliography (7-10 sources). Consider this essay the Introductory Section, or a key component of a much longer, more involved piece of research. Details and Grading Rubric to follow via email. Keep in mind, though, that final submission will be digital. When your initial compilations (Parts One through Six) are submitted, they will be scanned and returned to you, following which you will be given instructions to complete them for grading. 

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