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Topics in Literature & Society

ENGL 393.401
instructor(s):
TR 9-10:30

South African Writing since 1970: Literature, Apartheid, and Democracy This course will introduce students to South African literature (poetry, drama, novels, short stories, and films) from around the time of the Soweto riots until the present. The concerns raised by this body of writing, produced during a period of intense political struggle, are by no means parochial: the readings should be compelling to anyone interested in the relationship between literature and politics. Lecture/discussion classes will address such issues as: the responsibility of the writer in a situation of political crisis; the representation of torture and the ethics of narrative; the politics of (social and geographical) place; shifting conceptions of "nation" and "nationalism"; the intersections of race and gender; the problems of confession, truth, and reconciliation; the appropriateness of the term "postcolonial" in the South African context; and the prospects for a post-apartheid literature and culture.

Readings may include: Achmat Dangor and Michael Chapman, eds. VOICES FROM WITHIN: BLACK POETRY FROM SOUTHERN AFRICA; Mbongeni Ngema and Percy Mtwa, WOZA ALBERT!; Athol Fugard, John Kani, and Winston Ntshona, THE ISLAND and SIZWE BANSI IS DEAD; J.M. Coetzee, WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS, LIFE AND TIMES OF MICHAEL K, and AGE OF IRON; Mtutuzeli Matshoba, CALL ME NOT A MAN; Ellen Kuzwayo, CALL ME WOMAN; Nadine Gordimer, SOMETHING OUT THERE; Jeremy Cronin, INSIDE; Ahmed Essop, HAJJI MUSA AND THE HINDU FIRE-WALKER, Zakes Mda, WAYS OF DYING; and Chris van Wyk, THE YEAR OF THE TAPE WORM. We will also see a number of films, including MAPANTSULA and CITY LOVERS. While no specialist background is needed, it might be advisable to read Allister Sparks's engaging books, THE MIND OF SOUTH AFRICA and TOMORROW IS ANOTHER COUNTRY as background for the course.