A Caltech Library Service

The Influence of Négritude and Black Postcolonial Thought on Derek Walcott’s The Odyssey: A Play


Kunnam, Shwetha S. (2023) The Influence of Négritude and Black Postcolonial Thought on Derek Walcott’s The Odyssey: A Play. Other, California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/z2f9-g004.


[Introduction] Derek Walcott’s The Odyssey: A Play is an homage to both Homer’s Odyssey and the anti-colonial Négritude literary movement, which aimed to spread African cultural values and the centering of Black identity to the broader African diaspora. Walcott modifies the original Odyssey to include elements of his own St. Lucian heritage through the strategic addition of Afro-Caribbean language, characters, such as the narrator Billy Blue, spiritual traditions, and more modern anti-colonial ideas developed by the African diaspora. However, Walcott’s attempt to weave together postcolonial modes of thought and Homer’s Odyssey fails to capture the limited depth Homer imbues in his female characters. The shortcomings of the Négritude movement with respect to women, particularly women of color, are seen in the way Walcott writes nonwhite female characters, such as the slave Eurycleia and the enchantress Circe, as either caretakers (“mammies”) or seductresses (“jezebels”), stripping them of their agency and reducing them to stereotypes.

Item Type:Thesis (Other)
Subject Keywords:Gordon McClure Memorial Communications Prize; Gordon McClure Memorial Communications Prize in English; Hixon Writing Center
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Humanities and Social Sciences
Major Option:English
Awards:Gordon McClure Memorial Communications Prize in English, 2023.
Thesis Availability:Restricted to Caltech community only
Research Advisor(s):
  • Jahner, Jennifer A. (advisor)
  • Pigman, George W., III (advisor)
Group:Gordon McClure Memorial Communications Prize, Gordon McClure Memorial Communications Prize - English, Hixon Writing Center
Thesis Committee:
  • None, None
Defense Date:21 March 2023
Record Number:CaltechThesis:06162023-215901998
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:16119
Deposited By: Hanna Ramsey
Deposited On:20 Jun 2023 18:36
Last Modified:22 Jun 2023 23:39

Thesis Files

[img] PDF - Final Version
Restricted to Caltech community only
See Usage Policy.


Repository Staff Only: item control page