Welcome to the Department of English at Rutgers University

Course No: 350:595
Index: 18105
Distribution Requirement: A5, C
Wednesday - 4:30 p.m.
MU 207

South African Literature

Stephane Robolin

This course will take up defining trends and periods that have comprised South African literature across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including the late colonial, apartheid, and post-apartheid eras. While not comprehensive in scope, the survey will take up texts that exemplify aesthetics and traditions (or challenge them): the pastoral, New African, protest, liberal, Black Consciousness, and apocalyptic traditions, and the emerging aesthetics of the post-apartheid era. We will accordingly spend time situating our course texts within their historical and literary contexts to better understand the interventions of their authors.

Over the course of the term, we will pay particular attention to the figure of the citizen—how she is legally defined, produced by social practices, and reimagined in the literature we will be covering. Because the category of South African citizen had been restricted for so long according to race and ethnicity, we will devote time to reading for alternative forms of sovereignty and belonging. We will also begin extending these primarily political and social concepts into the literary realm to interrogate raced and gendered matters of representation, authority, voice, authorship, and readership.

Works may include some of the following:

Thomas Mofolo, Chaka

Peter Abrahams, Tell Freedom

Sibusiso Nyembezi, The Rich Man of Pietermaritzburg

Bessie Head, Maru

Steve Biko, I Write What I Like

Nadine Gordimer, The Conversationist

J.M. Coetzee, The Life & Times of Michael K

Njabulo Ndebele, Fools and Other Stories

Simon and Ngema, Woza Albert

Phaswane Mpe, Welcome to Our Hillbrow

Yvette Christiansë, Unconfessed

K. Sello Duiker, Thirteen Cents

Zoë Wicomb, Playing in the Light

Keorapetse Kgositsile, If I Could Sing

Ishtiyaq Shukri, The Silent Minaret

Selected works will be accompanied by essays by critics, including David Attwell, Rita Barnard, Gabeba Baderoon, Elleke Boehmer, Laura Chrisman, Mahmood Mamdani, Achille Mbembe, Njabulo Ndebele, Rob Nixon, Meg Samuelson, Michael Titlestad, and Zoë Wicomb, among others.

Graduate students will be evaluated on the basis of active class participation, one class presentation on a specified text/essays, a mid-term paper, an end-of-term panel presentation, and a final paper.

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