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UWI AT 70

THE GLEANER, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2018

D6

T

OP-RANKING SHAKESPEARE, don of the

English theatre, is traditionally taught in

universities as the master of high culture.

In his own time, his plays were popular culture,

written for mass consumption.

‘Rough & Ready’ Shabba Ranks, international

superstar of Jamaican dancehall culture, is

usually excluded from conventional literary

studies. The prepositions ‘from’ and ‘to’ do not

signify rejection of Shakespeare for Shabba.

Instead, they acknowledge the potential range

of literary texts in the academy.

When I entered The University of the West

Indies, Mona, in 1968 to study literature, my

department was named ‘English’. By the time I

was retiring as a professor of literary and

cultural studies in 2016, the department had

been transformed into ‘Literatures in English’.

The literature of England is no longer the

singular subject of study. The plurality of

literature from the former colonies of England

is represented in the curriculum.

The revised name of the department is not

entirely accurate. Various Creole languages are

deployed in the literature. In fact, Caribbean

Creole Linguistics originated in the Department

of English. The British linguist, Robert Le Page, a

former Head, established a solid academic base

for the study of Caribbean creoles. Furthermore,

oral texts are included as well.

In the 1969-1970 academic year, Professor

Kenneth Ramchand introduced a course on

West Indian literature. One of his British

colleagues sceptically asked, “Is there a West

Indian Literature?”Ramchand paid him no mind.

I was fortunate to have been a student in that

inaugural class, which included Louise Bennett

among the writers studied. Professor Mervyn

Morris was invited to lecture on her work. In

1963, he had written the classic essay, “On

Reading Louise Bennett, Seriously”, which was

published in

The Gleaner

in four installments in

1964. Professor Maureen Warner-Lewis

expanded the curriculum with courses on

‘Introduction to Orature’, ‘Folktale and Proverb’,

and ‘Myth, Epic and the Hero’. I designed

courses on popular culture: ‘Reggae Poetry’ and

‘Reggae Narratives’.

The Department also offers courses on film,

a development pioneered by Dr Rachel

Moseley Wood. In the 2018-2019 academic

year, a BA in Film Studies will be introduced.

Dr Connor Ryan played a major role in

designing the programme.

The colonial Department of English at Mona

has undergone revolutionary ideological

transformation into the post-colonial

Department of Literatures in English (and Creole

and Film Studies).

Its name will eventually catch up.

Prof Carolyn Cooper

William Shakespeare

Shabba Ranks

Rachid Parchment/Sports News Coordinator

THE UNIVERSITY of the West Indies (UWI), through its

Faculty of Sport, has bettered the lives of youngsters

across the Caribbean looking to gain

qualification for various careers in

professional sports, especially cricket.

Throughout its 70 years, the UWI has not

only been regarded as the most reputable

institution for tertiary training in the

region, but also as one of the Caribbean’s

symbols of unity through CARICOM.

Similarly, West Indies cricket has been

held in the same regard, especially

because of the role it plays in reminding

the people of the region of what it means to be black.

For many years, especially between the 1970s and

the 1990s when the Windies were dominant in Test

cricket, the team comprising black men was an

inspiration to many fans across the region.

However, in recent times, the team has struggled to

produce consistent victories in all three formats of the

game – Test, One-Day Internationals, and Twenty20 –

as many youngsters are choosing other careers

because they do not see the value in cricket, especially

as a means of earning a living.

The UWI has helped to change the perception that

once an individual chooses to become an athlete, it

closes the door on thoughts of earning a respectable

living through what had been traditionally considered as

professional and respectable careers.

“The Faculty of Sport is here to send that message,”

says UWI Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles,

who played professional cricket in his youth.

The UWI and Cricket West Indies (CWI) have worked

together throughout the years for the betterment of

cricketers across the region through various

memoranda of understanding (MOU) geared at

improving players and coaches.

CWI Marketing and Communications Manager Carole

Beckford says that these have enabled

cricketers such as Jamaican Chadwick

Walton and Windward Islands’ Kavem

Hodge to gain a tertiary education.

Walton recently completed a master’s

degree at The UWI, while Hodge is

pursuing his bachelor’s.

“We have different levels of MOUs

with the university that include

coaching programmes,” Beckford said.

“The Open Campus, through WIPA

(West Indies Players’ Association), has

been exceptional. Those relationships have yielded a

lot of opportunities for our members, where they get

to do courses, especially online. Those ventures have

been ongoing.”

One of the MOUs specifically focuses on coaching

improvement at Level Two.

Former wicketkeeper-batsman, now CWI Director of

Cricket, Jimmy Adams, describes The UWI as

“instrumental” in its creation.

“CWI will also benefit from UWI’s expertise in the

delivery of the course throughout the region,”Adams said.

“I am hopeful that the collaboration will see us

continue working together to further develop our

coaching education programmes to the benefit of

both the coaches and players throughout the region,”

added Adams.

The UWI and CWI have both said that while there is a

lot more to be done to improve cricket in the

Caribbean, the sport can return to its glory days with

the shared vision and objectives that have maintained

their long-standing partnership.

Sports faculty changing fortunes

From Shakespeare to Shabba

Ranks: Revising Literary Studies

Dr Eric Williams 1962-1971:

Prime Minister

of Trinidad & Tobago

PRO

CHANCELLOR:

Sir Thomas Taylor 1947-1952:

United Kingdom

(former Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford)

Dr Walter Grave 1953-

1958:

United Kingdom

Sir Arthur Lewis 1959-1960:

Saint Lucia

(first West Indian scholar to hold the post of

principal)

PRINCIPALS

(UCWI):

From left: University of

the West Indies (UWI)

student, scholarship

athlete, and current

West Indies cricketer,

Rovman Powell; Vice-

Chancellor Professor

Sir Hilary Beckles; and

Dean of the Faculty of

Sport, Dr Akshai

Mansingh, share a

light moment at the

official launch of the

faculty in July at

The UWI Regional

Headquarters in

Jamaica.

CONTRIBUTED