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In Between Waters: Nationalism and Alternative Sovereignty in Twentieth Century U.S. Virgin Islands Poetry


This master's thesis responds to the absence of U.S. Virgin Islands literature from Anglophone Caribbean literary history. I explore U.S. Virgin Islands poetry from the early twentieth century until the 1970s using close reading, historical and cultural analysis. I argue that poets from the U.S. Virgin Islands developed a nationalist literature based on cultural tradition rather than independence because they embraced the possibilities of political and economic progress under U.S. sovereignty. This body of poetry, then, articulates an alternative mode of belonging that allows for feelings of sovereignty to thrive despite the colonial relationship with the United States. Ultimately, U.S. Virgin Islands poetry illuminates how conventional ideas about Anglophone Caribbean literature obscure the complex historical relationships that produced nationalist voices within and beyond empire.

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