Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu

Dr Carl Plasa - BA (Oxon); MA, PhD (Southampton)

Overview

Dr Carl Plasa Position: Reader Email: Plasa@cf.ac.uk
Telephone: +44(0)29 208 75013
Extension: 75013
Location: John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cathays, Cardiff

Research Group

English Literature / Critical and Cultural Theory

Research Interests

African American and Caribbean literature; Victorian literature; literature and slavery.
I would welcome applications from prospective doctoral students working in any of these fields.

Selected Publications

Books
Slaves to Sweetness: British and Caribbean Literatures of Sugar (Liverpool: Liverpool
            University Press, 2009). Viii + 184pp
Charlotte Brontë (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave, 2004). Xvi + 190pp

Articles and Essays
‘Prefigurements and Afterlives: Bertha Mason’s Literary Histories’, Brontë Studies, 39.1
            (January 2014): 4-11
‘“The Object of His Craving”: Loss and Compensation in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon’,
            Treasure in Literature and Culture, ed. Rainer Emig (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag
            Winter, 2013), pp. 117-32
 ‘Doing the Slave Trade in Different Voices: Poetics and Politics in Robert Hayden’s First
            “Middle Passage”’, African American Review, 45.4 (Winter 2012): 1-17
‘“Tangled Skeins”: Henry Timrod’s “The Cotton Boll” and the Slave Narratives’, Southern
            Literary Journal, 45.1 (Fall 2012): 1-20

Publications

Books

Book covers

Slaves to Sweetness: British and Caribbean Literatures of Sugar (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2009). Viii + 184pp

Charlotte Brontë (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave, 2004). Xvi + 190pp

Textual Politics from Slavery to Postcolonialism: Race and Identification (Basingstoke and London: Macmillan, 2000). Vii + 172pp

Edited Collections

Ed. and intro., Jean Rhys: Wide Sargasso Sea, Icon Readers’ Guides Series (Cambridge: Icon Books, 2001), 176pp

Ed. and intro., Toni Morrison: Beloved, Icon Critical Guides Series (Cambridge: Icon Books, 1998), 167pp. Second edition in 2000.

Ed. and intro. with Betty J. Ring, The Discourse of Slavery: Aphra Behn to Toni Morrison,

Foreword by Isobel Armstrong (London and New York: Routledge, 1994). Xix + 226pp

Articles and Essays

‘Prefigurements and Afterlives: Bertha Mason’s Literary Histories’, Brontë Studies, 39.1 (January 2014): 4-11

‘“Mainly Story-Telling and Play-Acting”: Theatricality and the Middle Passage in Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger’, Postcolonial Studies Across the Disciplines, ed. Jana Gohrisch and Ellen Grünkemeier (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2013), pp. 151-66

‘“The Object of His Craving”: Loss and Compensation in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon’, Treasure in Literature and Culture, ed. Rainer Emig (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2013), pp. 117-32

‘Doing the Slave Trade in Different Voices: Poetics and Politics in Robert Hayden’s First “Middle Passage”’, African American Review, 45.4 (Winter 2012): 1-17

‘“Tangled Skeins”: Henry Timrod’s “The Cotton Boll” and the Slave Narratives’, Southern Literary Journal, 45.1 (Fall 2012): 1-20

‘Saccharographies’, Commodifying (Post)Colonialism: Othering, Reification, Commodification and the New Literatures and Cultures in English, ed. Rainer Emig and Oliver Lindner (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2010), pp. 41-61

‘“Conveying Away the Trash”: Sweetening Slavery in Matthew Lewis’s Journal of a West India Proprietor, Kept During a Residence in the Island of Jamaica’, RaVoN: Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net, 50 (2008), 19 paragraphs. Available at:

http://www.erudit.org/revue/ravon/2008/v/n50/018150ar.html?lang=en

‘“Muse Suppress the Tale”: James Grainger’s The Sugar-Cane and the Poetry of Refinement’ (2007), 31 paragraphs. Available at:

http://www.caerdydd.ac.uk/chri/researchpapers/humanities/papers1-10/Paper3.html

‘“Stained with Spots of Human Blood”: Sugar, Abolition and Cannibalism’, Atlantic Studies: Literary, Historical and Cultural Perspectives, 4 (2007): 225-43

‘George Eliot’s “Confectionery Business”: Sugar and Slavery in “Brother Jacob”’, LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory, 16 (2005): 285-309

‘Charlotte Brontë’s Foreign Bodies: Slavery and Sexuality in The Professor’, Journal of Narrative Theory, 30.1 (2000): 1-28

‘Reading “The Geography of Hunger” in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions: From Frantz Fanon to Charlotte Brontë’, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 33.1 (1998): 33-45

‘Tennyson Revised: Influence and Doubling in Four Quartets’, Symbiosis: A Journal of Anglo- American Literary Relations, 2.1 (1998): 1-21

‘“To Whom Does He Address Himself?”: Reading Wordsworth in Browning’s Pauline’, Varieties of Victorianism: The Uses of a Past, ed. Gary Day (Basingstoke and London: Macmillan. 1998), pp. 161-78

‘Revision and Repression in Keats’s Hyperion: “Pure Creations of the Poet’s Brain”’, Keats- Shelley Journal: Keats, Shelley, Byron, Hunt, and Their Circles, 44 (1995): 117-46

‘Fantasias of War: Language, Intertextuality and Gender in Dulce et Decorum Est’, Krieg und Literatur / War and Literature, 1 (1995): 61-78

‘“Silent Revolt”: Slavery and the Politics of Metaphor in Jane Eyre’, The Discourse of Slavery, ed. Carl Plasa and Betty J. Ring (London and New York: Routledge, 1994), pp. 64-93

‘Introduction’ (co-written) to The Discourse of Slavery, ed. Carl Plasa and Betty J. Ring (London and New York: Routledge, 1994), pp. xiii-xix

‘“Qui Est Là?”: “Race”, Identity and the Politics of Fantasy in Wide Sargasso Sea’, Gulliver: Deutsch-Englische Jahrbücher, 34.2 (1993): 42-59

‘“Cracked from Side to Side”: Sexual Politics in “The Lady of Shalott”’, Victorian Poetry, 30 (1992): 247-64

‘Lost in the Post-Miltonic: Reading Keats’s Letters’, Prose Studies: History, Theory, Criticism, 15.1 (1991): 30-48

‘Reading Tennyson in Four Quartets: The Example of “East Coker”’, English: The Journal of the English Association, 40 (1991): 239-58

Reviews

Review of Tim Armstrong, The Logic of Slavery: Debt, Technology, and Pain in American Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), Review of English Studies, Advance Access Publication (15 October 2013); doi:10.1093/res/hgt099

Review of Daniel G. Williams, Black Skin, Blue Books: African Americans and Wales, 1845-1945 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2012), New Welsh Review, 99 (2013): 89-91

Review of Simon Gikandi, Slavery and the Culture of Taste (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2011), Review of English Studies, 63 (2012): 705-06

Review of Sue Thomas, Imperialism, Reform, and the Making of Englishness in Jane Eyre (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2008), Women's Writing, 16.2 (2009): 353-55

Research

My main research project at present is a monograph entitled Following the Middle Passage: Currents in Literature Since 1945, under contract with Edinburgh University Press for publication in their Studies in Transatlantic Literatures series.

Although the transatlantic slave trade was officially abolished by Britain and the United States more than two hundred years ago, the trauma of the Middle Passage has not become a thing of the past. Instead it retains a vital currency, not only generating cultural and psychological effects that are still being worked through and debated but also prompting a rich array of literary responses, particularly in the period since 1945.

This book examines some of the most compelling and influential of these, showing how representations of the Middle Passage have developed historically, as poets and novelists enter into dialogue with one another and seek new and sometimes radical ways of engaging with the catastrophe that is their common ground. At the same time, the book explores the ways in which these writers, variously located in African American, Caribbean, African and British traditions, look back to, exploit and transform accounts of the Atlantic crossing from earlier historical eras (especially the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries).

Authors covered include: Robert Hayden, George Lamming, Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Grace Nichols, Toni Morrison, Barry Unsworth, Derek Walcott, David Dabydeen, Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang, Yvette Christiansë, Elizabeth Alexander, Marlene NourbeSe Philip, Jackie Kay, Brenda Marie Osbey, Dorothea Smartt, Douglass Kearney, Kevin Lowell Young, John Agard and Honorée Fannone Jeffers.

Biography

I am currently a Reader in English Literature at Cardiff, having worked previously at the Universities of Manchester and Cork.

My teaching portfolio includes first-year lectures on SE2133 Literature, Culture, Place and SE2130 Introduction to the Novel, together with second- and third-year modules on African American Literature and on the literary representation of British Caribbean slavery, respectively. I also teach an MA option entitled “Slavery in Nineteenth-Century Literature.” I have supervised the successful completion of some eleven PhDs to date and am presently supervising three doctoral candidates working on Wordsworthian legacies in Victorian literature; the fictions of Richard Wright; and the city in Black British writing of the 1980s.