Dr Denise Decaires Narain
Dr Denise deCaires Narain is a Reader in Postcolonial Literatures in the School of English. She was born in Guyana and has lived and taught in the Caribbean for several years. She has published widely on Caribbean women’s writing and is interested in and has published essays on the work of Jamaica Kincaid, Erna Brodber, Olive Senior, Shani Mootoo and Jean Rhys among others. Her monograph, Contemporary Caribbean Women’s Poetry: Making Style (Routledge, 2001) is the first sustained study of Caribbean women’s poetry. She has also published on the gendered implications of debates about orality, sexuality and popular culture in the Caribbean and in the ongoing contestation over the relevance of the categories ‘postcolonial’ and ‘queer’ within the region. Her monograph on the Jamaican short story writer, poet and cultural archivist, Olive Senior, was published in 2011 (Northcote House). It explores the distinctive Creole poetics in Senior’s work, her subversive use of “devious respectability” and the ambivalence of her representation of migration as a guarantee of upward social mobility. Denise has co-edited a special edition of the Journal of West Indian Literature with Evelyn O’Callaghan and Alison Donnell on ‘Shani Mootoo: Writing, Difference and the Caribbean’. Her essay, ‘After Creolization and Before Queer: Reflections on Naming Desire Between Women in Caribbean Literature’ argues for a return to and a revision of the Caribbean creolization paradigm, rather than simply adopting ‘queer’ as the only interpretive category. She is also working on a book-length study, Strange Intimacies: Representing the Servant in Postcolonial Women’s Texts, which explores how the maid/madam relationship figures in contemporary postcolonial women’s texts. Focused largely on the Caribbean, Africa, India and their diasporas, this study will interrogate the challenges and possibilities for feminisms that these relationships suggest and the hybrid literary forms which emerge in the process. Writers to be discussed include: Jamaica Kincaid, Jean Rhys, Phyllis Shand Allfrey, Shani Mootoo, Olive Senior, Zoe Wicomb, Marlene Van Niekerk, Ama Ata Aidoo, Assia Djebar, Amma Darko, Gcina Mhlophe, Kiran Desai, Anita Desai, Kamila Shamsie, Bapsi Sidhwa and Attia Hosein. She has published several essays drawing on this material, several of which engage with ideas of feminist solidarity. In Spring 2018 she was a visiting scholar at the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Studies.
She has supervised DPhil theses on the following topics:
Chinese American women’s writing and the politics of translation; African women and feminism;
Literary writing in Mauritius; Migrant women’s writing; Deconstruction and the Ethics of Reading Postcolonial Texts; South African writing in the period of transition (MPhil); Transnational queer politics: A Comparative study of Anglophone and South African literature and culture; The work of Isabelle Eberhardt (co-supervisor, MaPhil); a study of place in the novels of V. S. Naipaul and J. M. Coetzee; the novels of Ahlam Mosteghanemi; Black British Women Writing London; South African writing after the TRC; a creative and critical exploration of the sea in Caribbean poetry;
She is currently supervising DPhils on Edward Said and autobiography; Postcolonial women writers and the short story; and co-supervising a DPhil of Palestinian literary representations of the naqba.
She has been external examiner for a range of DPhil theses in the UK, South Africa and the Caribbean on a range of topics, including: Caribbean Women Writers; Mixed-Race Identities in Caribbean Literature; Middle-Eastern Women's Writing and Culture; Black British Women Poets and Performance Poetry; Creoleness and Orality in the Caribbean; the Representation of Madness in Contemporary Black Literature; Rushdie, Atwood and Postcolonial Feminism. She has taught at the University of the West Indies in Barbados and acted as external examiner for programmes there and at the University of Guyana. She was also external examiner at the University of North London.
She was Sub-Dean of Student Affairs for 4 years and Director of Student Support for 3 years. She is currently Director of CHASE (consortium for the humanities and arts in the south east).