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Dig Deeper: Get to Know Haiti

Map of Haiti from the John Smith Collection

Courtesy of the Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement (from the John F. Smith, III and Susan B. Smith Antique Map Collection.)

 

In the past several weeks, Haiti has become a frequent news topic, the world following the twists of political intrigue and fallout sparked by the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse in the early morning on July 7. The plot is alleged to have included a pair of retired Colombian soldiers, an intelligence officer, and a Florida-based pastor.

Many also recall Haiti from the earthquake that devastated the country in 2010 or, perhaps, the 1791 Haitian Revolution, an insurrection of self-liberated slaves against French rule.

But there is so much more to know about Haiti, including its people, its culture, and its land. Haiti is home to 9 million people and has two official languages: French and Haitian Creole. Occupying the western part of Hispaniola and sharing the island with the Dominican Republic, Haiti resides between the Atlantic Ocean to the north, and the Caribbean Sea to the south.

Work Cited:
Bartell, Jim. Haiti. Bellwether Media, Inc, 2011.


Works from and about Haiti, curated by Jutta Seibert, Director of Research Services & Scholarly Engagement at Falvey Memorial Library.

Haitians writing about Haiti

Dubois, Laurent, Kaiama L. Glover, Nadève Ménard, Millery Polyné, and Chantalle F. Verna, eds. The Haiti Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham: Duke University Press, 2020.

Includes excerpts from the works of Haitians from all walks of life covering political tracts, novels, poems, and songs, among others. Featured writers include Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Simon Bolivar, Henri Christophe, Victor Schoelcher, François Duvalier, René Depestre, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Edwidge Danticat, Jean Casimir, Frankétienne, and Emeric Bergeaud.

Must-Read:

Selected Fiction:

  • Kleist, Heinrich von. The Betrothal in Santo Domingo.
    Print copy available. One of the earliest literary works about the Haitian Revolution. German writer Heinrich von Kleist explores interracial love in his 1811 novella.
  • Bergeaud, Emeric. Stella: A Novel of the Haitian Revolution. New York: New York University Press, 2015.
    First English translation of Stella, a novel about the Haitian Revolution by Haitian novelist Emeric Bergeaud, first published in 1859.
  • Bontemps, Arna. Drums at Dusk. A Novel. New York: Macmillan, 1939.
    A novel by Harlem Renaissance member Arna Bontemps.
  • Frankétienne. Dezafi: A Novel. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2018.
    A novel about life under the Duvalier regime written in Haitian Creole by Haitian writer Frankétienne. Now available in English translation.
  • Danticat, Edwidge, ed. Haiti Noir. New York: Akashic Books, 2011.
    A collection of stories from Haiti including works by Edwidge Danticat, Gary Victor, Evelyne Trouillot, Madison Smartt Bell, Patrick Sylvain, Kettly Mars, and Yanick Lahens.

Contemporary Accounts of the Haitian Revolution:

  • Rainsford, Marcus. An Historical Account of the Black Empire of Hayti. Durham: Duke University Press, 2013.
    A new edition of the earliest English-language account of the Haitian Revolution. Originally published in 1805.
  • Geggus, David Patrick. The Haitian Revolution: A Documentary History. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2014.
    Print copy available. Features a wide range of primary sources related to the Haitian Revolution including personal recollections, letters, government documents, popular songs, travel narratives, and advertisements.
  • Toussaint Louverture. The Memoir of General Toussaint Louverture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
    Print copy available. Edited and translated by Philippe R. Girard, this book includes a transcript of the handwritten account and an English translation.
  • Beard, J. R., and Toussaint Louverture. Toussaint L’Ouverture: A Biography and Autobiography. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2001.
    Combines John Relly Beard’s biography with the first English language translation of Toussaint Louverture’s memoir.

Recent Scholarship:

 


Shawn Proctor is Communication and Marketing Program Manager, and Jutta Seibert is Director of Research Services & Scholarly Engagement at Falvey Memorial Library.

 


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Last Modified: July 27, 2021