November 15–19, 2021

We invite you to an online annotation event–or counter-annotation event–about James Grainger’s poem The Sugar-Cane. This event will take place asynchronously from Monday, November 15, to Friday, November 19, 2021, and provide participants with a chance to engage collectively with historical texts about the Caribbean. Grainger’s The Sugar-Cane was first published in London in 1764 and drew attention for its portrayal of sugar plantations, the economic engines of the British Empire. Today, researchers, teachers, and others read Grainger because it includes detailed depictions of the experiences of the enslaved. At the same time, because the point of Grainger’s poem was to celebrate the system of plantation slavery, his poem must be presented in a critical manner that challenges its mission, silences, and violence. When a team of researchers based at Columbia and Fordham Universities in New York created a digital edition of The Sugar-Cane, then, they aimed to produce a “counter-edition” that would interrogate Grainger’s pro-slavery stance and help readers interpret the poem for evidence of Afro-Caribbean and indigenous life, knowledge, survival, and resistance.

Over the course of the five days of the event, we invite you to expand the project of producing a counter-edition by annotating Book IV of The Sugar-Cane using the digital editing tool Our goal for the week is to engage in a process of generative layering that will add new interpretations and paratexts to Grainger’s poem. The week will begin with a 45-minute tutorial on and introductory discussion of The Sugar-Cane on Monday, November 15 at 10AM. Make sure to sign up below if you plan to attend the tutorial.

In 2019 archipelagos journal hosted a similar event as an exercise in digital peer review around Laurent Dubois, David Kirkland Garner, and Mary Caton Lingold’s website Musical Passage. A full account of that experiment can be found in archipelagos (4). An article about the digital Grainger project and the idea of a counter-edition by team member Kimberly Takahata can be found in archipelagos (5).