Cogut Institute for the Humanities

James Langan

2023–24 Undergraduate Fellow, Concentrator in Comparative Literature and Anthropology
Project “Rereading Modernity: Specters of Cannibalism in the Caribbean Avant-Garde”
Last updated June 22, 2023


James Langan ’24 is an undergraduate studying comparative literature and anthropology. Working primarily in Portuguese, Spanish, and French, he is interested in comparing modernist and avant-garde movements across Western Europe, the Caribbean, and the Southern Cone. His other research interests include post-structuralism, the Frankfurt School, the philosophy of anthropology, Third World cinema, and the diffusion of Marxism beyond Europe. His thesis, provisionally entitled “Rereading Modernity: Specters of Cannibalism in the Caribbean Avant-Garde,” traces the epistemological and ontological formation of a modern(ist) Caribbean through the figure of the cannibal. In framing the act of anthropophagy as a Derridean specter — the paradoxical materialization of a “non-present present” — this project will compare how writers in Brazil, Cuba, and the Francophone Caribbean digest and reformulate representations of cannibalism to capture the haunting, swallowing nature of Modernity. In other words, how does the Caribbean eat (with) ghosts? This thesis will seek to incorporate Marxist, psychoanalytic, anthropological, ecocritical, and postcolonial perspectives to unsettle our understanding of cannibalism as a device of social critique and literary innovation.