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Sports of culture: Writing the resistant subject in South Africa (readings of Ndebele, Gordimer, Coetzee)
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Arts, Department of Literature.
1999 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis interrogates the post-colonial and ethical implications of three works of fiction published in South Africa between 1983 and 1987, namely Fools and Other Stories by Njabulo S. Ndebele, A Sport of Nature by Nadine Gordimer and Life & Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee.

With a double focus on the attempt to inscribe subject-positions that resist the determinations of colonial history and apartheid, and on the formal conditions of possibility for such a strategy, the thesis opens with an extended theoretical discussion. Gayatri Spivak's concept of catachresis and the term "mimicry" as defined by Homi Bhabha are of particular importance to the analysis of how formal elements and subject-positions marked by colonial history are textually reappropriated.

In the chapter on Fools, the main focus is on the challenge to the dichotomy between African "tradition" and "rational" Western knowledge. This eventuates in a utopian notion of a fully modern African subject, which is tested against the narrative's negotiation of its constricted historical predicament.

The reading of A Sport of Nature deals with the utopian options inscribed in the main character Hillela. It departs from previous discussions of the novel insofar as its failure to convince realistically is redeemed through the allegorical and catachrestic reassemblage of disparate temporal and cultural elements in the figure of Hillela.

In Life & Times of Michael K, the ethical imperative to transgress the limits of the imperial Western subject while refraining from appropriating alterity, places specific demands on the reader's reflexive capacity. By mobilising the philosophy of Emmanuel Lévinas, the chapter rearticulates the novel's deconstruction of metanarratives in terms of an ethical sublimity that disrupts the reader's assumption of hermeneutic authority. The subject "beyond" apartheid's determinations is never affirmed in the novel, but is rather marked by blankness, thereby clearing a space for an-other subject and an-other history of which the text is not in control.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 1999. , x, 222 p.
Keyword [en]
Literature, African literature, Homi Bhabha, catachresis, ethics, Frantz Fanon, Emmanuel Lévinas, mimicry, post-colonial theory, South African literature, Gayatri Spivak, subaltern
Keyword [sv]
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-777ISBN: 99-2954958-7OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-777DiVA: diva2:169930
Public defence
1999-05-22, lecture hall IX, Main building, Uppsala University, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 1999-05-01 Created: 1999-05-01Bibliographically approved

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