Photo of Sarah Phillips Casteel

Sarah Phillips Casteel

Degrees:B.A. (University of Toronto), M.A., M.Phil. (Columbia University), Ph.D. (Columbia University)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 2306
Office:201J St. Patrick's Building

Research Interests

  • diaspora and postcolonial literature and theory, especially Caribbean and Jewish
  • representations of Jewishness in postcolonial and multicultural writing
  • hemispheric American studies
  • ecocriticism and postcolonial studies

Current Research

My research interests are in diaspora and postcolonial literatures with a particular emphasis on Caribbean and Jewish writing. My new book, Calypso Jews: Jewishness in the Caribbean Literary Imagination, is forthcoming from Columbia UP in January 2016.  This book, which is supported by a Government of Ontario Polanyi Prize as well as a SSHRC standard research grant, considers the appeal that Jewishness holds for the Caribbean literary imagination. By broadening our understanding of Black-Jewish literary relations beyond the U.S. national frame, this book enriches the cross-cultural project of Caribbean literary criticism while also advancing the emerging conversation between postcolonial studies and Jewish studies.

My research also engages recent articulations of the field of hemispheric American studies, and I am particularly interested in the problematic absence of Canadian writing from such discussions despite the increasing popularity of comparative approaches to the literatures of the Americas. To this end, I co-edited with Winfried Siemerling (U. of Waterloo) an essay collection entitled Canada and its Americas: Transnational Navigations (McGill-Queen’s UP, 2010) and also co-edited with Rachel Adams (Columbia U.) a 2005 special issue of Comparative American Studies on “Canada and the Americas.”

My first book, Second Arrivals: Landscape and Belonging in Contemporary Writing of the Americas, which was published by the University of Virginia Press in its New World Studies series in 2007, examined interconnections between nature writing and the construction of postcolonial and diasporic identities. In Second Arrivals, I considered how rural and wilderness spaces function as sites of diasporic emplacement in the writing of Derek Walcott, V. S. Naipaul, Jamaica Kincaid, Philip Roth, Joy Kogawa and others as well as the visual art of Jin-me Yoon and Isaac Julien.

I am a co-founder of CTCA: the Centre for Transnational Cultural Analysis (, a Carleton University Research Centre whose purpose is to foster the development of transnational approaches to the study of culture. I am also cross-appointed to the Institute of African Studies and the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture.

Professional Honours and Awards

Research Award, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Carleton University, 2011-12

Fellow, Posen Foundation Summer Seminar on “The Literatures of Jewish Secularism and Secularization,” Hampshire College, Hampshire MA, August 1-10, 2011

John Charles Polanyi Prize for Literature, Government of Ontario, 2007

Carty Research Fellowship, Carleton University, 2006

Horst Frenz Prize, American Comparative Literature Association, 2004


Calypso Jews:  Jewishness in the Caribbean Literary Imgination.  Columbia UP, forthcoming in January 2016.

Canada and Its Americas: Transnational Navigations. Essay collection co-edited with Winfried Siemerling. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s UP, 2010.

Second Arrivals: Landscape and Belonging in Contemporary Writing of the Americas. New World Studies series. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007.

Recent Publications

“Writing Under the Sign of Anne Frank: Creolized Holocaust Memory in Michelle Cliff and Caryl Phillips.”  Modern Fiction Studies.  60.4 (Winter 2014): 796-820.

“Port and Plantation Jews in Contemporary Slavery Fiction of the Americas.” Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters. 37.1(Winter 2014).

“Calypso Jews: Holocaust Refugees in the Caribbean Literary Imagination.” Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History. 19.2 (Autumn 2013): 1–26.

“Sephardism and Marranism in Native American Fiction of the Quincentenary.” “The Future of Jewish American Literary Studies.” Spec. issue of MELUS 37.2 (Summer 2012): 59-81.

“The Language of Landscape: A Lexicon of the Caribbean Spatial Imaginary.” The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature, eds. Alison Donnell and Michael Bucknor. London: Routledge, 2011. 480-89.

“Jews among the Indians: the Fantasy of Indigenization in Mordecai Richler’s and Michael Chabon’s Northern Narratives.” Contemporary Literature 50.4 (Winter 2009): 775-810.

Recent Presentations

“Caribbean Literature and Jewish Historical Trauma.”  Cultural Memory Studies Initiative.  University of Ghent, April 28, 2015.  (invited lecture)

“Writing the Jewish Atlantic: Plantation Jews in Postslavery Literatures of the Americas.”  MLA.  Vancouver.  January 11, 2015.

“Caribbean Literature and the Holocaust: Revisiting the “Black-Jewish Monologue.””  The Holocaust, Race, and Racism in the Postcolonial World.  The Wiener Library, London.  January 14, 2014.  (invited speaker)

“Sephardism in Caribbean Literature: Derek Walcott’s Tiepolo’s Hound,” Panel on “Jewish American or Jewish Americas?” MLA. Chicago. January 9-12, 2014.

“Holocaust Memory and Decolonization in Caribbean Literature: Michelle Cliff’s Fiction and Poetry.” American Comparative Literature Association. Providence, Rhode Island. March 29-April 1, 2012.

“Port and Plantation Jews in Caribbean Slavery Fiction.” Caribbean Studies Association.  Willemstad, Curaçao. May 30-June 3, 2011.

“The Port Jew in Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes.” “Jews, Slavery and the Civil War.” Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program and the Center for Southern Jewish History at the College of Charleston, Charleston. May 24-26, 2011.

“The Jewish Columbus and the Other 1492 in Native American Fiction of the Quincentenary.” American Comparative Literature Association. Harvard University. Cambridge, Mass. March 26-28, 2009.

Recent Graduate Courses

ENGL 5004/CLMD 6102: Diaspora Theory

ENGL 5606: Blacks and Jews: Comparative Diasporas in Transnational Perspective

ENGL 5004: The Figure of the Jew in Multicultural and Postcolonial Literatures

ENGL 5004: Literatures of the Americas

Doctoral Supervisions

Sarah Waisvisz (PhD, English), “Dissident Diaspora: Genres of Maroon Witness from the Anglophone and Francophone Caribbean” (defended April 2014)

Gabrielle Etcheverry (PhD, Canadian Studies), “Cultures of Coloniality: Latina/o Writing in Canada” (defended May 2015)

Aliesha Hosein (PhD, English), “From Slaveships to Cruiseships: Ships, Boats and Sailing Vessels in Caribbean Literature” (defended August 2015)