Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2021

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Comparative Literature

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Poetics of Afrodiasporic Translation: Negotiating Race, Nation, and Belonging Between Cuba and the United States examines the ways in which translation expands the literary and sociocultural potentialities of blackness in the United States, Cuba, and internationally by expressing new concepts, aesthetics, and different Afrodiasporic perspectives across languages, traditions, and cultures. I establish a comparative close reading methodology to analyze what I define as “poetics of Afrodiasporic translation,” or the literary and sociocultural strategies used by Afrodescendant translators to translate Afrodescendant poets writing in other languages or countries. By examining translational relationships between black poets in the United States and AfroCuban poets, my project compares their respective poetics and Afrodescendant literary traditions while, at the same time, creating a framework wherein we can analyze how poets and their translators craft texts that speak to a range of sociocultural issues in national and international contexts. In the work of Plácido and James Weldon Johnson, as well as that of Nicolás Guillén, Langston Hughes, and my own translation of Guillén’s El gran zoo (1967), those sociocultural issues include 1) how race influences national identities, gender identities, and social belonging, 2) identifying behaviors and repercussions of antiblack oppression and exoticism, and 3) how national and hemispheric histories of racial colonialism inflect the literary expression of black subjectivity, each poet and translator expressing different potentialities of blackness in the face of complex racial epistemologies in their language, location, and time period. My dissertation demonstrates that careful analyses of literary translation between Afrodescendants in Cuba and the United States offers an innovative methodology that compares the oft-ignored – or oversimplified – relations that exist across the various cultures and languages of Afrodescendant writers in the Americas.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Ignacio Infante

Committee Members

Elzbieta Sklodowska, William J. Maxwell, Rafia Zafar, J. Dillon Brown,

Available for download on Sunday, May 16, 2100