Author:
Natalie Catasús, NHC Education
Subject:
Arts and Humanities, Literature, English Language Arts, Composition and Rhetoric, World Literature, World History, Cultural Geography
Material Type:
Activity/Lab, Assessment, Lecture Notes, Lesson Plan, Primary Source
Level:
Community College / Lower Division, College / Upper Division
Tags:
Caribbean, Caribbean History, Colonialism, Cuba, Emory University, GSSR19, Landscape, Latin American Studies, Representation, Slavery, Sugar, Sugar Trade, Visual Analysis
License:
Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
Language:
English
Media Formats:
Downloadable docs, Graphics/Photos, Text/HTML

Constructing Landscapes in a Caribbean Context

Constructing Landscapes in a Caribbean Context

Overview

Through this lesson, students will be able to identify how the formal elements of various documents produce representations of the Caribbean as a complex and layered space impacted by slavery, industry, agriculture, and colonial and touristic desire. They will be able to describe the differences between textual and visual representations of landscape and articulate how form impacts content. Building on an understanding of the multiplicity of ways the same space can be represented, they will also be able to critically interrogate the rhetoric of representative media.

Essential Question and Understanding

  1. Documents/Artifacts—The documents included within this lesson consist of engravings, paintings, postcards, illustrations, and photographs of landscapes throughout the Caribbean. They include representations produced both by Caribbean peoples and by outsiders that use various media to express different perspectives on the impacts of slavery, tourism, and natural and human-made disasters on the islands. They have been carefully selected so that the documents complement and complicate one another in hopes that these tensions will help students deepen their thinking about these issues and how they are represented. While this lesson plan document includes 12 documents/artifacts, the instructor should add to or reduce the collection so that the number of artifacts matches the number of students.
  2. Background Information—For the purposes of this assignment, it will be helpful to have a basic familiarity with the history of Caribbean colonization and slavery as well as the following topics related to the artifacts: the Haitian Revolution, the sugar industry, North American and European tourism to the Caribbean in the early-mid 20th century, Afro-Caribbean water deities, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and Hurricane María. While expertise on these topics is not absolutely crucial, a basic familiarity will help the students connect their observations to larger trends in how the Caribbean has been represented. That said, the activity need not end in a history lesson and should instead focus on questions of representation, aesthetics, and visual narrative.

Essential Question: How do we construct landscape?How do we relate to landscape? 

Understanding: The very notion of a landscape is a concept that we as humans have constructed to describe our relationship to the surface of the natural world, particularly those spaces which we perceive as distant, or of a scale much larger than ourselves. When we use the term landscape, we are often referring not exclusively to the physical world, but to representations of that world in art, literature, and history. All of these forms of representation remind us that our relationship to landscape is mediated and shaped by human perception. Our relationships to various landscapes are not static, and we may at different points perceive the very same space as one of comfort and sustenance, home and belonging, or as a space of adventure, novelty, or even danger. Thus our relationship to landscape is always mediated and always in flux. 

Audience

This lesson is designed for a 200-level course in Caribbean literature and visual culture, though it could easily be adapted for a course in history, art history, visual/media studies, Caribbean or Latin American Studies, etc. The course aims to introduce students to the skills required for reading comparatively across national traditions and academic disciplines, including close reading, visual analysis, and critical interpretation.

Pace and Sequence

Lesson

Before teaching, print out hard copies of the materials and ensure that there will be enough for each student to have a different document. Pass out the documents, instructing students to only look at their own. Ask students to spend three minutes simply observing the document, taking in all of the visual details. 

      After three minutes of silent observation, instruct students to write a detailed description of their document. Do not provide further instructions beyond this. This should take about five minutes. 

      Collect the documents and ask students to trade their written description with a student across the table. Shuffle the documents and ask students to help tape them up to the walls (creating a gallery). Instruct students to read their partner’s description, then walk around the room and locate the document their partner has described.

      Once all the students have located their document, begin a discussion (in pairs or as a group) that asks students to reflect on the process.

B) Artifacts

1.

Macintosh HD:Users:nataliecatasus:Documents:PhD:Teaching:CPLT 201W:Screen Shot 2019-07-31 at 12.14.41 PM.png

Hand-Colored Engraving of Francois Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture Revolting Against the French in St. Dominique: Illustration depicting Francois Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture participating in the successful revolt against French power in St. Dominique (Haiti). 1900. Bettman Archive. Getty Imageshttps://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/illustration-depicting-francois-dominique-toussaint-news-photo/517432250.

2. 

Macintosh HD:Users:nataliecatasus:Documents:PhD:Teaching:CPLT 201W:Clark, plantage-suriname-landscape.34a8e1a.jpg

Clark, William. “Cutting the Sugar Cane.” Ten Views in the Island of Antigua, in which are represented the process of sugar making, and the employment of the negroes. 1823. The British Library, London. The British Libraryhttps://www.bl.uk/collection-items/cutting-the-sugar-cane-antigua.

3. 

Macintosh HD:Users:nataliecatasus:Documents:PhD:Teaching:CPLT 201W:Castera Bazile (Haitian, 1923–1966). Coumbite [Konbite Communal Fieldwork], 1953..jpg

Castera Bazile. Coumbite [Konbite Communal Fieldwork]. 1953. Milwaukie Art Museum, Milwaukie. Milwaukie Art Museumhttp://collection.mam.org/details.php?id=2948.

4. 

Macintosh HD:Users:nataliecatasus:Documents:PhD:Teaching:CPLT 201W:Lam, Wifredo_The Jungle.jpg

Lam, Wifredo. The Jungle (La Jungla). 1943. Museum of Modern Art, New York. Museum of Modern Art,https://www.moma.org/collection/works/34666.

5.

Macintosh HD:Users:nataliecatasus:Documents:PhD:Teaching:CPLT 201W:travel-cuba-coca-cola-1958.jpg

Enjoying a Coke on Cuba’s famous Varadero Beach [Illustration for Coca-Cola].1958. Envisioning the American Dream,https://envisioningtheamericandream.com/2015/02/16/havana-holidays/.

6.

Macintosh HD:Users:nataliecatasus:Documents:PhD:Teaching:CPLT 201W:Hinde Archive Jamaica 2.jpg

Hinde, John. Doctors Cave Beach—Montego Bay—Jamaica W.I. John Hinde Collection. John Hinde Collectionhttp://www.johnhindecollection.com/jamaica1.html.

7.

Macintosh HD:Users:nataliecatasus:Documents:PhD:Teaching:CPLT 201W:Hinde Archive Jamaica 1.jpg

Hinde, John. White River—Ocho Rios—Jamaica W.I. John Hinde Collection. John Hinde Collection,http://www.johnhindecollection.com/jamaica1.html.

8.

Macintosh HD:Users:nataliecatasus:Documents:PhD:Teaching:CPLT 201W:Sandals_aerial-beach-ocean-mountains-resort.jpg

Sandals Resort in St. Lucia. Sandalshttps://www.sandals.com/grande-st-lucian/.

9.

Macintosh HD:Users:nataliecatasus:Documents:PhD:Teaching:CPLT 201W:Maria 104729905-GettyImages-853157646.jpg

Arduengo, Ricardo.A man rides his bicycle through a damaged road in Toa Alta, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico. 2017. Getty Images. CNBChttps://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/25/puerto-rico-struggles-with-aftermath-of-hurricane-maria.html.

10.

 

Macintosh HD:Users:nataliecatasus:Documents:PhD:Teaching:CPLT 201W:Haiti earthquake.jpg

Suero, Lisandro.Haiti Earthquake. 2017. Getty Images. National Geographic,https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/01/100113-haiti-earthquake-red-cross/.

11. 

Macintosh HD:Users:nataliecatasus:Documents:PhD:Teaching:CPLT 201W:Kingdom of the Sea.jpeg

Valcin, Gerard. Le Royaume de la Mer [The Kingdom of the Sea].1985. University of Michigan Library, https://guides.lib.umich.edu/Afro-Carib202.

12.

 

Macintosh HD:Users:nataliecatasus:Documents:PhD:Teaching:CPLT 201W:Hora.jpg

 

Hora, André. The Offering / A OferendaAndré Hora,https://andrehora.com/product/the-offering-a-oferenda/

C) Learning Goals

Through the interrogation of these artifacts, students will be able to:

    1. develop their skills in descriptive writing and formal analysis of visual documents
    2. describe the differences between textual and visual representations
    3. identify patterns in form and content and begin to interpret their significance in a Caribbean context
    4. use visual data to make evidence-based inferences about historical context
    5. critically interrogate the role of perspective in constructing representations of place

Text Analysis

The purpose of the group discussion is for the students to reflect on the process of producing and interpreting visual descriptions of the artifacts, and to reflect on the form and content of the artifacts themselves as well as the written descriptions they will have produced. Use the observations that emerge from this discussion to connect to the essential questions around how landscapes are constructed and how we relate to them. From here, guide the discussion toward how this small sample of “evidence” (the artifacts) produces various representations and narratives about the Caribbean specifically.

Questions for group discussion:

Process—

  • What was it like trying to identify your partner’s artifact? How did you know when you found it? Was it easy? Hard? How so?
  • Did you have an image of the artifact in your head after reading the description, and if so, did it match the real thing?
  • What differences did you notice between the written description and the artifact?

Content & form—

  • What kind of artifacts are these? What kinds of media are used?
  • What do these images tell us about these places? What evidence do they provide?
  • Do you see any similarities in terms of the content of the artifacts? What topics or themes appear?

Questions to ask about individual images as they come up in discussion—

  • What qualities of this image suggest that it is a landscape?
  • Are there any qualities in this image that are familiar to you? How so?
  • What seems to be the purpose of this image? Who might its intended audience be? How does the evidence point to this?

Formative Assessment

This activity requires students to (a) produce a written representation of a visual representation and (b) closely analyze someone else’s text and a series of visual artifacts in order to match text to image. Through the group discussion, students should be able to analyze their individual experience with the writing and matching activity and use this as the basis for exploring the differences between textual and visual representation. Their responses in discussion should demonstrate an ability to move beyond their personal experience and articulate evidence-based observations about how landscapes are constructed and what patterns and narratives emerge from such constructions. A follow-up activity may ask students to select two artifacts that depict similar content (e.g. sugarcane fields) and to write a comparative analysis of how each artifact portrays the landscape.

Sources

Arduengo, Ricardo.A man rides his bicycle through a damaged road in Toa Alta, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico. 2017. Getty Images. CNBChttps://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/25/puerto-rico-struggles-with-aftermath-of-hurricane-maria.html.

Castera Bazile. Coumbite [Konbite Communal Fieldwork]. 1953. Milwaukie Art Museum, Milwaukie. Milwaukie Art Museumhttp://collection.mam.org/details.php?id=2948.

Clark, William. “Cutting the Sugar Cane.” Ten Views in the Island of Antigua, in which are represented the process of sugar making, and the employment of the negroes. 1823. The British Library, London. The British Libraryhttps://www.bl.uk/collection-items/cutting-the-sugar-cane-antigua.

Enjoying a Coke on Cuba’s famous Varadero Beach [Illustration for Coca-Cola].1958. Envisioning the American Dream,https://envisioningtheamericandream.com/2015/02/16/havana-holidays/.

Hand-Colored Engraving of Francois Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture Revolting Against the French in St. Dominique: Illustration depicting Francois Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture participating in the successful revolt against French power in St. Dominique (Haiti). 1900. Bettman Archive. Getty Imageshttps://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/illustration-depicting-francois-dominique-toussaint-news-photo/517432250.

Hinde, John. Doctors Cave Beach—Montego Bay—Jamaica W.I. John Hinde Collection. John Hinde Collectionhttp://www.johnhindecollection.com/jamaica1.html.

——–White River—Ocho Rios—Jamaica W.I. John Hinde Collection. John Hinde Collection,http://www.johnhindecollection.com/jamaica1.html.

Hora, André. The Offering / A OferendaAndré Horahttps://andrehora.com/product/the-offering-a-oferenda/.

Lam, Wifredo. The Jungle (La Jungla). 1943. Museum of Modern Art, New York. Museum of Modern Art,https://www.moma.org/collection/works/34666.

Sandals Resort in St. Lucia. Sandalshttps://www.sandals.com/grande-st-lucian/.

Suero, Lisandro.Haiti Earthquake. 2017. Getty Images. National Geographic,https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/01/100113-haiti-earthquake-red-cross/.

Valcin, Gerard. Le Royaume de la Mer [The Kingdom of the Sea].1985. University of Michigan Library, https://guides.lib.umich.edu/Afro-Carib202.