Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Poetry of Revolution: Romanticism and National Projects in Nineteenth-century Haiti

Reinsel, Amy Lynelle (2008) Poetry of Revolution: Romanticism and National Projects in Nineteenth-century Haiti. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (1MB) | Preview


This dissertation examines the largely dismissed nineteenth-century tradition of Romantic poetry in Haiti from the 1830s to the 1890s. I synthesize the conclusions of various studies prompted by the 2004 Haitian bicentennial in order to challenge the claims that nineteenth-century Haitian poems are banal parodies of French texts and simple preludes to twentieth-century Haiti literature. I argue that imitation becomes an impossible label with which to understand the complexities of Haitian poetry and national sentiment. Considering Haiti's ambiguous relationship to modernity and the clairvoyance with which Haitian poets expressed national concerns, Haitian poetry constitutes a deliberate practice in the construction, legitimization and expression of national identity. In each of the three chapters I rely on historical context in order to situate the poetry and examine it through textual analysis. I explore in an initial chapter how political changes in Haiti in the 1820s, along with recognition of independence from France, coincided with the subsequent birth of Haitian Romanticism in the 1830s. The poetry of Coriolan Ardouin and Ignace Nau documents the development of poetic subjectivity and the inaugurating of national history which make this a pivotal period in Haitian poetry. A second chapter focuses on Haiti's most prolific nineteenth-century poet, Oswald Durand, whose collection Rires et Pleurs includes poetry from the 1860s through the 1880s. Haitian theories of racial equality are expressed in Durand's corpus and set within the thematic and aesthetic norms of French Romanticism, but the effort to inscribe a national and racial specificity enriches as much as it complicates his poetic project. In the final chapter, I document the shift that occurs for the last Haitian Romantic poet, Massillon Coicou. In his 1892 collection Poésies Nationales, the confident project of asserting national identity gives way to the sense of national failure due to an increasingly triumphant imperialism and internal corruption. On the eve of the Haitian centennial, Coicou's verse demonstrates the ways in which political crisis in Haiti are inherently tied to the notion of poetry. He ultimately turns to political activism, and his assassination in 1908 symbolizes the demise of poetry as a viable, national project.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Reinsel, Amy
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMecchia, Giuseppinamecchia@pitt.eduMECCHIA
Committee MemberWatts, Philwatts@pitt.eduWATTS
Committee MemberHatcher, Robertahatcher@pitt.eduHATCHER
Committee MemberDrescher, Seymoursyd@pitt.eduSYD
Date: 3 November 2008
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 30 July 2008
Approval Date: 3 November 2008
Submission Date: 20 July 2008
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > French
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Haitian Nationalism; Haitian poetry; postcolonial Haiti; Haitian literature; Haitian Romanticism
Other ID:, etd-07202008-194326
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:52
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:46


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item