English 4850 Writing a Nation: From Apartheid to Democracy in South African Literature
Section 001 CRN 90839
Writing a Nation: From Apartheid to Democracy in South African Literature 1400-1515 TR
This course charts the role of literature in ending the white-minority rule of state terrorism called apartheid (segregation) and in establishing democracy in South Africa. We shall begin with some contexts in post-colonialism, the history of South Africa and the rise of resistance, reading selected essays by Steve Biko from I Write What I Like (1978), Richard Rives’ novel about forced removal in Cape Town “Buckingham Palace,” District Six (1986), Zakes Mda’s evocation of The Immorality Act of 1949 and The Terrorism Act of 1967 to convey the consequences and implications of such state terrorism and Nadine Gordimer’s vision of potential revolution in July’s People (1981). We will continue by looking at national transformation in the aftermath of majority rule in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings through selections from Antjie Krog’s Country of My Skull: Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa (1999), Achmat Dangor’s novel Bitter Fruit (2005) and Sindwe Magona’s Mother to Mother (1998). We shall conclude by considering the challenges of coming to terms with a legacy of repression and resistance with readings of J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace (1999), Shaun Johnson’s The Native Commissioner (2006) and Kopano Matlwa’s Coconut (2007).
When possible, I shall supplement readings with video excerpts or selections to evoke the place and people of South Africa; much of the contextual work will continue through brief topics and ancillary readings throughout the term. We shall explore, too, parallels and differences between American and South African apartheid as may be useful.
The course format will be lecture and discussion, and course requirements will be participation (20%)—consisting of discussion, quizzes and written responses to reading assignments; two essays (4-6 pages, 20%; and 10-12 pages, 40%); and a midterm examination (20%). (Group 2)