Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

Heather Russell

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Ana Luszczynska

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Donna Weir-Soley

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Imperial, illness, Caribbean literature, resistance, creative imagination, mental illness, polyrhythm, madness

Date of Defense



The purpose of this thesis is to examine Michelle Cliff’s No Telephone to Heaven (1996), and to scrutinize, through Christopher’s mental illness, the couched, unspoken, and deeply embedded presence of imperial hegemony in the Caribbean. I shall argue that Christopher’s mental illness is not, as one might have it, an inexplicable lapse into insanity, but both a fitting, polyrhythmic expression of longstanding postcolonial/neocolonial abuse, and a dynamic form of counterhegemonic resistance. Thus, my use of the term, imperial illness, refers to colonial impacts on the Caribbean, and how those impacts continue to play a significant role in postcolonial/neocolonial societies and, concurrently, the strategies imagined by postcolonial subjects to resist. Christopher’s mental illness, then, is the result of sustained imperial socio-psychological torment, which produces, quite ironically, the conditions that make possible his acts of resistance.





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