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South African Literature and Film

ENGL 572.401
Monday 3:00-6:00pm

In this course we will immerse ourselves in South African culture and politics from the apartheid-era to the present.  Weekly modules will include: Sophiatown and Global Modernity; The Sestigers (60’s generation) and Cultural Resistance; Prison and the National Imaginary; Cry White Season: Anti-Apartheid Fiction and Film; Comedy, Grotesque, and the Transition; “Madiba Magic” and Politics of Enchantment; Remapping the Racialized City; The TRC: Testimony, Trauma, and Redemption; AIDS and Biopolitics; Queering the National Family; The Gangster and the State; Representing Marikana; and Black Consciousness: Then and Now. The selection of literary works is to some extent shaped by the most teachable films. Few of these are masterpieces; but their flaws are revealing and by incorporating them into our discussions, we will be better able to reflect on the marketing and circulation of “South Africa” as ideoscape and the mediation and emplotment of historical events.  The syllabus, in sum, will enable us to think together in an interdisciplinary and transnational fashion, so that the course will be of interest not only to specialists, but to all students of modernism and postcolonialism. 


Our filmography will comprise both feature films and documentaries, including 8-10 of the following: Have you Seen Drum Recently? Black ButterfliesIn Darkest Hollywood,Come Back, Africa!More than Just a GameCry FreedomDry White Season,MapantsulaEndgameInvictusMax and MonaTsotsi, Hijack StoriesYesterdayRed Dust, Forgivenness, Skoonheid (Beauty), Cape of Good HopeConversations on aSunday AfternoonJerusalemaDear MandelaMiners Shot Down and Threnody for the Victims of Marikana.  Our list of literary texts will comprise poetry, novels, and memoir/autobiography; works that may be included are: Gordimer, A World of Strangers; Modisane, Blame me on History; Brink, Dry White Season; Biko, I Write What I Like; Cronin, Inside; Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians and Disgrace; Naidoo, Island in Chains; Lewin, Stones against the Mirror, Mda, Ways of Dying; Krog, Country of My Skull; Vladislavic, The Exploded View; Mhlongo, Dog Eat Dog; plus selected poetry by Breytenbach, Jonker, Serote, Rampolokeng, and Cronin. (Please note that the readings do not overlap with the 2015 graduate seminar on South Africa and Global Modernity.)  Requirements: two class presentations (one on a film and one on a literary work) and a paper of 15-20 pages.

fulfills requirements