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South African Literature

ENGL 572.401
instructor(s):
M 12-3

This course will introduce graduate students an emergent literature and to such authors as J.M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, Athol Fugard, Andre Brink, Mongane Wally Serote, Bloke Modisane, Ezekiel Mphahlele, and Bessie Head. The concerns raised by this literature are by no means parochial, and the materials should be compelling to anyone interested in theorizing the relationship between contemporary literature and politics. The course will therefore have a fairly substantial critical and theoretical component and will be organized thematically, to cover such issues as: exploration and the colonial mind; the ideology of the pastoral; the (white) obsession with sex across the color bar; autobiography and identity; torture and the ethics of narrative; the "political uncanny;" "resistance literature;" etc. We will also consider representations of the struggle against apartheid in American films, the appropriateness of the term "postcolonial" in the South African context, and, in conclusion, the prospects for a post-Apartheid literature and culture. Texts may include The Narrative of Jacobus Coetzee, Blame Me on History, The Conservationist, July's People, Something Out There, Boesman and Lena, The Bloodknot, The Life and Times of Michael K., The Grass is Singing, Dry White Season, The Collector of Treasures, Waiting for the Barbarians, Hajji Musa and the Hindu Fire Walker, You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town, plus selected poetry. Films may include Woza Albert!, Boesman and Lena(starring Fugard and Yvonne Bryceland), Mapantsula, A People's Poet (on Mzwake Mbuli), Cry Freedom, Dry White Season, Country and City Lovers, etc. Criticism by Marx, Adorno, Foucault, Fanon, Grotowski, Freud, Coetzee, Scarry, etc. Students should try to read Alistair Sparkes's The Mind of South Africa for background.