Caribbean Studies Concentration

This is an interdisciplinary concentration to be earned in conjunction with the individual Ph.D. requirements for the departments of English, History, and Modern Languages and Literatures. Ph.D. students pursuing the doctoral concentration take a minimum of two Caribbean-focused courses (6 credit hours) within their home department, and a minimum of two Caribbean-focused courses (6 credit hours) outside of their department.

Why a Doctoral Concentration in Caribbean Studies?

The scholarly study of the Caribbean has developed as a particularly interdisciplinary field, and Caribbean-focused faculty members in English, History, and MLL are committed to bringing interdisciplinary perspectives to bear in the training of Ph.D. students. The Caribbean Studies doctoral concentration aims to:

  1. Enhance the ability of participating departments to recruit strong Ph.D. students working on the Caribbean;
  2. Enable participating departments to better prepare Caribbean-focused graduate students as both scholars and teachers;
  3. Make participating students more competitive across diverse career paths.

Completion of the doctoral concentration is reflected on participating students’ transcripts. An essay prize in Caribbean Studies is awarded annually across the three departments.

Departmental Strengths in Caribbean Studies

The University of Miami is recognized internationally for its interdisciplinary strength in Caribbean Studies. Our faculty stands at the forefront of the field, with a particular interest in transcultural and transnational connections across the region, hemisphere, and Atlantic world. 

In the Department of English, faculty publish and teach on Caribbean literary and intellectual histories of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; literatures of immigration and diaspora; globalization; feminist thought; sexuality, national identity, and citizenship; popular cultures; and the contemporary visual arts. The department’s additional strengths in American, African American, and African literary studies, as well as in Early Modern literature, British and Irish literatures, and postcolonial studies foster a rich climate for the study of Caribbean literatures and cultures transnationally. In addition, the department supports the publication of Anthurium, a bi-annual, peer-reviewed, open access journal of Caribbean Studies that publishes original works and critical studies of Caribbean literature, theater, film, art, and culture in electronic form. Graduate students have the opportunity to apply for an RA-ship to work as assistant editors on the journal.

Department of History faculty members work on cultural, intellectual, political, and social histories of the Caribbean and Atlantic world from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. They study histories of colonialism, slavery, revolution, capitalism, emancipation, indenture, empire, nationalism, labor mobilization, the Cold War, neocolonialism, and globalization, through focal points such as law and religion, migration and travel, material cultures and consumption, medicine and healing, gender and sexuality, performance and sport. The department’s additional strengths in African, African diasporic, African American, Early Modern, Latin American, and United States histories encourage transatlantic, transnational, and interdisciplinary perspectives on Caribbean history, culture, and society.

Major areas of faculty focus in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, include Caribbean digital humanities; Caribbean and Latinx performance and theater studies; nineteenth through twenty-first century literatures of the Francophone and Hispanophone Caribbean; sociolinguistics of the Hispanophone Caribbean; literatures of immigration and diaspora; globalization and transnational studies; colonial and postcolonial studies; transnational feminisms; and cultural policy. The department supports the publication of the Cuban Theater Digital Archive, an online resource for research, teaching, and learning in Cuban theater and performance as well as in related fields. Graduate students in MLL have the opportunity to apply for an RA-ship to work as assistant editors on the digital archive. Additional strengths in Africana, Arabic, Brazilian, Iberian, early Spanish American, and Latin American cultural and literary studies; as well as in Early Modern studies, gender studies, immigration studies, indigenous studies, and queer studies further enrich the study of Caribbean literature and culture in the department.

Beyond the Departments of English, History, and Modern Languages and Literatures, students pursuing the doctoral concentration are able to take relevant Caribbean-focused graduate courses in other departments. In the Department of Anthropology, for example, faculty scholarship and teaching on the Caribbean encompasses family and kinship; the cultural politics of race, sexuality, and gender; health, medicine, and human security; Black feminist and queers of color theory; violence and marginalization; and ethnographic methodology and writing. In the Department of Art and Art History, faculty work on Caribbean and Latin American modernisms, the work of Caribbean women artists, nineteenth century Caribbean portraiture, and Caribbean art in the global imaginary. In the Department of Musicology (part of the Frost School of Music) faculty study Caribbean music transnationally, with reference to wider African diasporic histories and cultures, and the contemporary forces and circuits of globalization. Areas of research and teaching focus include religion and healing; identity construction and nationalism; industry and audience; and cultural politics and policy. Students can also request that graduate courses in the Latin American Studies Program count towards the doctoral concentration.

The University of Miami is part of the Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics. Our graduate students can take team-taught seminars hosted by the institute that combine the face-to-face quality of traditional classrooms with online collaboration, enabling students throughout the Americas to communicate and work together online. Students can also participate in the Hemi’s Caribbean Performativities Working Group as well as in the Encuentros and the Hemi Graduate Student Initiative. As a member institution, we also have access to the Hemispheric Institute Digital Video Library (HIDVL), which includes over 900 hours of videos of performance practices in the Americas.

UM Libraries Resources in Caribbean Studies

UM Libraries are internationally recognized for their extraordinary Caribbean-related holdings.

The Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) collects, preserves, and provides access to primary and secondary sources on Cuba and the Cuban diaspora from the sixteenth century to today. It is the most comprehensive Cuban research collection in the United States, and includes rare and contemporary books, pamphlets, magazines, newspapers, journals, and other print publications. The CHC also houses important collections of personal papers, organizational records, and other primary sources that include historical and literary manuscripts, letters, photographs, maps, posters, sound and video recordings, interviews, objects, ephemera and “born digital” materials. The Goizueta Foundation Graduate Fellowship Program provides assistance to doctoral students who wish to use the resources available in the CHC in support of dissertation research.

The Caribbean-related holdings in Special Collections are likewise outstanding, combining breadth and depth. Special Collections recently became one of the two permanent South Florida homes (with Miami Dade College) of the renowned Jay I. Kislak Foundation Collection, one of the most important concerning the history of the early Americas, with a particular focus on the Caribbean and Florida. In addition, Special Collections holds the Pan American World Airways Collection, providing insight into the history of commerce and tourism in the Caribbean. Graduate students working in this collection are eligible to apply for the Dave Abrams and Gene Banning Pan Am Research Grant. Special Collections’ holdings also include the papers of prominent individuals and organizations in the Caribbean diaspora, as well as the Caribbean Diaspora Oral History Collection and the Haitian Diaspora Oral History Collection.

Other Resources, Opportunities, and Networks in Caribbean Studies at UM and in Greater Miami

Beyond the strengths of these CAS departments and the UM Libraries in Caribbean Studies, other university resources plus our location in Miami make UM an ideal site for this doctoral concentration. Graduate students have the opportunity to take part in the work of Hemispheric Caribbean Studies, a collective of faculty and graduate students across diverse fields that builds on the long and distinguished history of Caribbean-focused programming across UM departments, programs, and centers. Graduate students participating in the doctoral concentration also have the chance to take part in lectures, workshops, symposia, and conferences sponsored by the University of Miami Institute for Advanced Studies of the Americas and the Center for the Humanities. The Programs in Africana Studies, American Studies, Latin American Studies, and Gender and Sexuality Studies further enrich Caribbean-related programming and opportunities at UM. In addition, graduate students have the opportunity to take advantage of the permanent collections of the Lowe Art Museum, with impressive strengths in Latin American and Caribbean visual art.

Through the College of Arts and Sciences’ UGrow (Graduate Opportunities at Work) Program graduate students can apply for nine-month placements in non-teaching units at the university or in off-campus organizations, in place of their regular teaching assistantship assignments. These placements provide training and experience in fields that will appeal to future employers both inside and outside academia, including librarianship and archive management; museum curation and collection development; and data analysis and digital humanities. Since 2015, students have worked on Caribbean-focused projects in the University of Miami Libraries and at HistoryMiami Museum. In addition, Caribbean-focused graduate students have interned on important projects in UM’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement that have culminated in exhibitions and publications. 

UM faculty members maintain close and collaborative relations with Caribbean-focused colleagues at institutions across the circum-Caribbean and at other South Florida universities. These include: the Interuniversity Institute for Research and Development (Haiti); the Université d’État d’Haïti; the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras; the University of Puerto Rico, Utuado; the Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe; the Universidad del Turabo (Puerto Rico); the University of the West Indies, Mona (Jamaica); the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine (Trinidad and Tobago); the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill (Barbados); and Cuba’s Casa de las Américas, Instituto Superior de Arte, Consejo Nacional de las Artes Escénicas, and Universidad de La Habana. Since 1999, UM Caribbean Literary and Cultural Studies has been a key institutional partner on the annual West Indian Literature Conference, which it hosts at UM every five years. In addition, faculty in English have a long history of collaboration with the Small Axe Project, convening international symposia that culminate in the publication of essays in Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism.

Graduate students from UM, Florida Atlantic University, and Florida International University jointly co-organize the Annual South Florida Latin America and Caribbean Studies Graduate Student Conference, rotating among the three campuses. Our graduate students are also eligible to take courses at FIU — extending the Caribbean-focused offerings available to them — and to take advantage of FIU’s rich library resources.

There is also a long history of UM faculty and graduate student collaboration with institutions in greater Miami such as the Black Archives History & Research Foundation, HistoryMiami Museum, Little Haiti Cultural Complex, Pérez Art Museum Miami, and the Wolfsonian-FIU. Miami is often described as a Caribbean city, and students pursuing the doctoral concentration will find that their opportunities for study and research extend well beyond campus borders.

Sources of Support for UM Graduate Students in Caribbean Studies

In addition to the support provided by the doctoral concentration and by their own departments, graduate students are eligible to seek research funding from these internal sources:

University of Miami Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas: UMIA Field Research Grants and UMIA Distinguished Fellowships

College of Arts and Sciences: Academic Year Dissertation Award; Max and Peggy Kriloff Student Travel Scholarships; Summer Research Fellowships

Center for the Humanities: CH Dissertation Fellowships.


Students pursuing the doctoral concentration in Caribbean Studies must take as part of their required course credit hours a minimum of four Caribbean-focused courses (12 credit hours) as shown below.

A minimum of two courses (6 credits) selected from the following:

ENG 658: Studies in Transatlantic Literature

ENG 665: Studies in African American Literature

ENG 666: Caribbean Literature

ENG 667: Caribbean Popular Culture

ENG 668: Studies in Race and Diasporic Literatures

ENG 686: Theories of Gender and Sexuality

ENG 687: Studies in Literature and Culture since 1950

ENG 688: Studies in Latino/a Literatures and Cultures

ENG 689: Comparative Americas Studies


A minimum of two courses (6 credits) selected from the following:

HIS 602: Africa and the African Diaspora

HIS 602: Africa in Cuba / Cuba in Africa

HIS 652: Race in Latin America

HIS 652: Travels through Latin America

HIS 654: Afro-Caribbean Religion: Healing and Power

HIS 654: Haiti in History

HIS 654: Caribbean Intellectual History and Social Movements

HIS 662: Slavery and Capitalism

HIS 669: Black Protest Thought

HIS 669: Rethinking African-American Culture

HIS 669: History of Global Slavery

HIS 708: Slavery in the Atlantic World

HIS 708: Atlantic Histories

HIS 716: Caribbean Field Prep 

FRE 775: Topics in Francophone Studies

MLL 702: Bilingualism

MLL 703: Topics in Critical Studies of Language

MLL 721: Atlantic Crossings: Literature and Immigration in the Age of Globalization

MLL 727: Topics in Caribbean Studies

SPA 733: Topics in Colonial Literature

SPA 735: Topics in 19th Century Latin American and Caribbean Literature

SPA 736: Topics in 20th Century Latin American and Caribbean Literature


**Or other courses with advisor’s approval.**