2019-2020 – “The Fruits of Colonial Botany: How Haitians used Plants to Create an ‘Indigenous’ Identity,’” SSHRC Institutional Grant, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada ($5,000 Awarded)
While the field of Haitian Studies remains dominated by an interest in the racial, political, and philosophical dimensions of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) which secured Haiti’s independence from France and ended slavery in the colony, as a whole, the field is now entering a turn towards the greater nineteenth century. Fossilized interpretations, once focused on the nation as the unit of analysis, are giving way to a reexamination of long-neglected Haitian nineteenth century works in the context of Haitian participation in multilingual and transnational networks of migration from Europe and the Americas. At the same time, recent research into “colonial botany,” the study of the symbiotic relationship between botanical knowledge and colonial power, has tended to privilege the eighteenth-century. As a result, it has generally failed to provide an account of how the Caribbean elite weaponizes botanical knowledge after empire. As a humanities-driven work of “postcolonial botany,” this project shows how Haitian botanical writings could be used to imagine forms of national belonging throughout the nineteenth century that tied Haitians to the indigenous Taino, while strategically minimizing their connections with Africa.
2018-2019 – “How should we correct mistakes in the speech of foreign language learners? Assessing the training of Undergraduate Teaching Assistants in effective feedback strategies.” ($3,000 Awarded)
The introductory course in the Department of French Studies uses fourth-year undergraduate teaching assistants (UTAs) to provide first-year students with speaking practice in small group tutorials. In recent years, however, students have expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of feedback that they received on speaking from their UTA. For this study, I will research the effectiveness of different strategies for providing feedback and train UTAs in practices supported by this literature. I will then assess the effectiveness of this training on student perceptions of feedback they received from their UTA and determine if the feedback improved students’ speaking skills.
2019 – “Why Should We Care about Nineteenth-Century Haitian Novels,” 2019 Mobility Grant for Researchers, Ambassade de France au Canada (unsuccessful)
For more than a century, scholars of Haitian literature have largely been unable to make any case for the value of these novels. As a result, they are little studied, hardly read, and nearly impossible to find, despite their arguable importance to the global patrimoine of francophone, Caribbean, and black letters. For this project, I will deliver a talk on the Haitian novel, Francesca (1872), at an international conference on the past and future of Haitian literature at the University Paris 8, and study the Haitian novel, Le damné (1877) at the BnF. The study of these two nineteenth-century novels will help researchers better understand the esthetic development of Haitian novels as well as the pressures put on postcolonial national literatures. Furthermore, as a result of this project, I hope to “adopt” Le damné and have a digital copy placed in the electronic library of the BnF, Gallica, where it will be forever available at no cost to interested readers worldwide.