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Masters Degrees (English, Media and Performance Studies)

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    Class and racial inequality experienced by women of colour in post-apartheid South Africa, explored through selected South African literary texts (1987-2011)
    (2023) Pillay, Shazlynn Juelle.; Malaba, Mbongeni Zikhethele.
    South Africa is commonly referred to as the ‘Rainbow Nation’. This country is known as a melting pot of ethnicities. However, the legacy of apartheid is eternally woven into the fabric of the nation’s existence. This has shaped the identities of those born before and into the era of democracy. Women of colour have difficulties adapting to a post-apartheid, male-dominated version of South Africa. This study investigates the class and racial differences women experience in contemporary South Africa as represented in two post-apartheid feminist texts, along with an analysis of a text set and written during apartheid. My research focuses on Coconut (2007) by Kopano Matlwa, Onion Tears (2011) by Shubnum Khan, and You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town (1987) by Zoë Wicomb. Using Kimberlé Crenshaw’s concept of intersectionality as the foundational theoretical framework, this research project argues that women should embrace every aspect of their heritage and identity to deal with the pressures of a variable socio-economic atmosphere. Matlwa and Khan’s novels are debut texts for these female writers and present characters who search for identity, yearn for belonging and struggle to assimilate while addressing women’s societal roles and the impact of an ever-changing socio-political environment. Wicomb’s interrelated short story anthology also deals with issues of identity, acceptance and the difficulties Coloured women experienced during South Africa’s darkest days. Each theme resonates with non-white women currently, just as in the past. Onion Tears focuses on three generations of Muslim women living in suburban Johannesburg. Khadeejah Ballim is a first-generation Indian woman who wonders if her place truly is in South Africa. At the same time, her daughter Summaya is caught between her South African and Indian identities. Summaya’s young daughter, Aneesa, often has difficulty connecting with her peers and understanding her community. Similarly, Coconut documents the lives of two young Black women living in Johannesburg. On the one hand, Ofilwe Tlou is born into a wealthy family, receives her education from private schools and is given every advantage. On the other hand, Fikile Twala, who hails from a township, strives to escape poverty by working hard to change her circumstances and reinvent herself. The novel indicates that class differences create social segregation, which is apparent in this society. Wicomb’s protagonist, Frieda Shenton, encounters class and racial issues from a gendered perspective throughout her life in South Africa, which influences her relocation to London during adulthood.
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    Matters of the mind: analysing the depictions of mental health issues in three contemporary African novels.
    (2024) Oumar, Tasmiyah.; Malaba, Mbongeni Zikhethele.
    This dissertation is a literary analysis, and the selected texts have been examined through the theoretical lenses of postcolonialism, spiritual realism, and liminality. Although issues such as identity, race, and culture are examined in postcolonial literature, not many texts focus on the mental health effects of these issues from an African viewpoint. To better understand the postcolonial experience in terms of mental health, it is important to not use a Western model as a universal measure for mental disorders (Nwoye, 2015). This is because different worldviews influence how mental health is viewed. For example, in the West, mental health issues are largely examined through a “bio-psycho-social” approach (Nwoye, 2015:306), with a distinct focus on the self, whereas the African approach also includes a spiritual element (Laher, 2014; Nwoye, 2015). This spiritual element can be seen in Akwaeke Emezi’s debut novel, Freshwater, which incorporates Igbo cosmology, thus adding a supernatural element to the novel. Irenosen Okojie’s debut novel, Butterfly Fish, also encompasses the supernatural, and this brings up the concept of spiritual realism. The mental health struggles of the characters in these novels are interpreted from both a literal African viewpoint as well as a metaphorical lens which sees the spiritual elements in the novels as representations of the mental health issues faced by the characters. Although Yaa Gyasi’s Transcendent Kingdom does not comprise a mystical element, it does examine mental health struggles that stem from postcolonial issues like identity and racism. All three novels therefore offer an explanation of mental health that is relevant not only to Africans living in the West but also to other Neocolonial populations, including those in Africa.
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    “My life is nothing but a comedy”: madness and revenge tragedy in Todd Phillips’ Joker (2019)
    (2022) Akoo, Selma.; Laltha, Samiksha.
    This dissertation analyses the employment of madness and the revenge tragedy in the contemporary Hollywood film Joker (dir. Phillips, 2019). By focussing on the causation that leads to the protagonist’s tragic fate, I argue that the protagonist’s use of blood revenge is due to the city’s indifferent nature towards its marginalised and mentally ill citizens. Though the protagonist’s crimes cannot warrant any justification, an empathetic understanding can be bridged to the audience due to the intimate portrayal of his suffering. Madness is most certainly loaded with diverse histories and persists as an anomaly to humans. The current interpretation of madness, within the context of mental illness, greatly differs from its early understanding incorporating societal rejection of those who failed to uphold the standards of societal convention. In Joker, it is further attributed to individuality and liberation from the constraints of societal convention. My research maintains that the film deploys madness as a defensive and coping mechanism against the tyranny of societal structures, through which the protagonist emancipates his dangerous and powerful Joker persona. In addition, I analyse the portrayal of mental illness in Joker. I impartially explore the film’s rally for mental illness awareness and compare it to its damaging depiction of a violent and murderous mentally ill protagonist. The film essentially embodies both redeeming and harmful portrayals of mental illness. I henceforth assess the presence of the revenge tragedy in Joker by examining the formula of the genre’s leading precedent, The Spanish Tragedy (Kyd, [1592] 1898). The Kydian formula establishes the structure of a revenge tragedy narrative employing blood revenge as its primary method of retribution, and it is through this formula that I am able to locate and justify the presence of the revenge tragedy in Joker (dir. Phillips, 2019). Due to the cold-blooded vengeance the protagonist undertakes, I evaluate the cautionary tale around the mistreatment of the mentally ill which gave rise to the events in the film. As a result of this, my research asserts that the protagonist ultimately occupies the seat of the anti-hero despite the brutal nature of his crimes. The societal system reigns as the true villain of the film, because if it were not for the systematic marginalisation of Gotham’s disadvantaged and mentally ill citizens, as well as the callous nature of society, then the protagonist may have not walked down the dark path that he did.
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    Impossible closeness: intimacies and transgressive desire in Park Chan-wook’s Stoker and The Handmaiden.
    (2022) Naidu, Rasmika.; Rossmann, Jean.
    This dissertation examines the representation of intimacies and transgressive desires in Park Chan-wook’s films Stoker (2013) and The Handmaiden (2016). I argue that these queer coming-of-age films represent women as active agents in their quests toward self-awakening and emancipation from patriarchal control (Mulvey 1989; Dworkin 2000). Indeed, transgression and taboo are two primary tropes in these narratives of queer sexual awakening. The films are compelling in their depiction of queer intimacies and the quest for an impossible closeness. Both plots play upon gendered expectations by presenting female protagonists who seemingly conform to patriarchal norms, only to dupe male characters (and the audience) and overturn these expectations with dramatic effect. I approach these films through the lens of queer and feminist theory, along with feminist film theory (Laura Mulvey and Kaja Silverman). My analysis of the representation of eroticism and intimacy in the films is informed by a critical lexicon provided by Georges Bataille, Karmen MacKendrick and Michel Foucault. This study considers Park’s role as a hybrid auteur and his capacity to occupy a liminal zone between art and commercial cinema, allowing him to access a wide and diverse audience. In my analysis of The Handmaiden, I explore the film’s self-reflexive interrogation of pornography’s objectifying power and the difficulty of representing women’s desires in cinema. Moreover, I explore how the inversion of gender power dynamics in the film highlights the illusory nature of phallic power, thus exposing the fantasy of male subjectivity, with its assumptions of mastery, authority, and sufficiency. Furthermore, I also explore how eroticism and intimacy are used as tools for liberation by the female protagonists. In my analysis of Stoker, I situate the film as a neo-noir thriller that co-opts elements of the bildungsroman to tell the coming-of-age tale of a fille fatale. I analyse scenes in the film that highlight the awakening of the protagonist’s killer/sexual awakening, the fluidity of sadomasochistic attractions and the quest for limit experiences that reveal the interconnectedness of violence, pleasure, and power. Reading through the lens of Silverman’s critique of the Oedipus complex, I outline how India rejects Oedipalisation. Focussing on the leitmotif of shoes, I discuss the film’s subversive rewriting of two traditional fairy tales, imagining an unrestrained feminine desire. In conclusion, I consider the transformative ethics of Park’s films, and how through vicariously sharing in the rebellious boundary-breaking of Park’s female protagonists, queer cinema encourages viewers to question heteronormative views on sexuality, intimacy and desire, inviting us to “to take a fresh look at our gaze (and our gays)” (Boyle 2012: 67).
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    An exploration of how language and context augment the construction of a prototypical female identity represented in the portrayal of Desdemona and Lady Macbeth in William Shakespeare’s Othello and Macbeth.
    (2022) Naidoo, Radeshree.; Malaba, Mbongeni Zikhethele.
    My research is based on a qualitative study of the characterisation of females in two Shakespearean tragedies, Othello and Macbeth. The focus of the study is the impact of language and contextual factors of the Shakespearean era on the construction of a female prototype. Since ideals of male dominance have severely confined Shakespeare's female characters, either villainy or passivity seems to predominate. In my study, I aim to highlight how these stereotypes depict the most typical character traits in females, which create prototypes. Shakespeare used conventional notions of women being either evil or subservient and dutiful and these notions became entrenched as female stereotypes which to an extent justify their inevitable downfall and demise. This study will attempt to provide diagnostic evidence from the language in the plays, to accentuate the role of language in reinforcing the inequity between the roles of men and women. A comparative textual analysis will be conducted of the character traits of the leading females and their foils. This study will gain insights into patterns as suggested by Irving Ribner (1960) which were elaborated by Melodie Fox (2011) using Eleanor Rosch’s prototype theory, which augment the construction of the prototypes of passivity or villainy in the female identity.
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    "High talk: a discussion of W B Yeats' aesthetic stance as focused in his New Poems and Last Poems.
    (1996) Morrissey, Norman Alan.; Gardner, Colin Oxenham.
    Abstract available in PDF.
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    A study on how community participation in community radio stations can have a positive impact on the sustainability of community radio stations in the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality.
    (2021) Msileni, Asanda.; Sewchurran, Anusharani.
    This qualitative exploratory study examines the sustainability of community participation in community radio within two community radio stations located in Buffalo Community Metropolitan Municipality. The study is an in-depth exploration of the complexity of community participation in two community radio stations and the impact this has on their sustainability. The theoretical framework underpinning this study provides a theoretical foundation upon which the research is built. The study draws from normative theories, namely the Social Responsibility Theory and the Democratic-Participant Theory. The study employed semi-structured interviews and questionnaires as data collection techniques. The research problem that has prompted this study is that the instability often experienced by the community radio sector is habitual and a result of the exclusion of communities from the running of community radios. Instability often threatens the sector’s independence and ability to play a crucial role, as a broadcasting service, to fulfil its mandate. The conclusions drawn from the exploratory study of the two community radio stations, namely: Kumkani FM and Wild Coast FM reveal the almost non-existent relationship between the two sampled stations and their communities as the two stations lack clear policies that encourage community participation in the production of programmes. Precisely, the study reveals that the participants did not relate to the community radio stations. This has far-reaching consequences for the stations; for instance, the lack of social acceptance leads to dire straits for community radio stations based in poor and resource-constrained communities. Knipe (2003) emphatically states that once the relationship between a community radio station and its community ceases to exist, then the community radio station has no reason for continued existence. A comprehensive approach to the sustainability of community radio stations ought to be developed in order to create strategies or policies that encourage community participation in the production of programmes, governance and other key operations.
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    Narrative framing: deconstructing Pi’s truth in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.
    (2021) Pillay, Anitha.; Kayat, Jethro Anthony.
    The primary focus of this dissertation is Pi Patel, Yann Martel’s main protagonist in Life of Pi (2001). Martel’s novel is framed by an Author’s note that introduces a story that “will make you believe in God” (xii). This Author’s Note encases a series of strategically nested embedded narratives. In the dissertation I explore Martel’s use of narrative framing as a literary technique. It is proposed that this is an intentional narrative strategy that Martel employs to create nested frames to encase Pi’s disparate accounts of his sea odyssey. The exploration on narrative framing as a literary technique will begin on the borders of the text, the paratextual framing. I rely on Genette’s (1997) theories on paratextual framing in Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation to analyze the circumtextual framing of Life of Pi (2001) and its correlation to Pi’s ‘truth’. The narrative frames in Life of Pi (2001) will then be analyzed within the context of Jacques Derrida’s description of the performance of the frame in The Truth in Painting (1987). The potential performance of the frames in this context presents interpretive possibilities for analysing the representation of Pi’s trauma in the novel. I will also attempt to deconstruct Pi’s ‘truth’ as represented in his divergent stories that are presented in the embedded narrative frames of the novel. The reader of the text, and the Japanese officials who interview him after the traumatic castaway episode of his life, are confronted with a choice of which story to believe as being the ‘true’ story. Viewed through a lens of subjectivity, each one of Pi’s stories can be evaluated as containing its own truth. To this end, I will explore the relativity of truth and storytelling as interconnected themes in the novel. Martel presents storytelling as having its own truth, independent of any claim to objective reality and this is evident in Pi’s appeal to the Japanese officials to choose the “better story” (Martel, 2001: 317). The nature of Pi’s truth will be deconstructed in the exploration on trauma, and I rely here on developments in Trauma Theory, especially in relation to Literary Studies. The relationship between memory and storytelling in Martel’s fictional universe is analyzed in relation to Pi’s representation of his trauma in the novel. The dissertation also comments on the significance of religious narratives in Pi’s physical and psychological survival. l conclude the dissertation with a critical examination of the privileging of one story as being the ‘better story’. The aim of this examination is to discover how the possible performance of the narrative frames presents new avenues for interpreting Pi’s trauma.
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    Decoding news and reception: an investigation into the discourses on selected Facebook news sites around reports of the South African farmland attacks (2017 to 2018)
    (2022) Sheik, Laila.; Sewchurran, Anusharani.
    This qualitative study investigates the encoding and decoding of farm attacks in South Africa during the period 2017- 2018. The corpus for analytical inquiry is drawn from the online news sites BBC News and IOL and the Facebook comments they elicited. Data was collected through nonprobability sampling in an unobtrusive netnographic approach. The study achieves theoretical triangulation by an application of Stuart Hall’s encoding/decoding theory of reception as well as critical discourse analysis to the same corpus. Van Dijk’s (2001) ideological squaring was a useful heuristic to map the polarized ideological divide between white farmers and their support groups and black farm workers and their sympathizers. Rhetorical tropes of card stacking plain folks, emotional stereotypes and ad hominem fallacies as well as the use of celebrities were used to foreground the plight of white farmers in a hyperbolic claim of “white genocide”. Backgrounded in this discourse was the inequity stemming from blacks being dispossessed of land, white farmer assaults on black farmworkers and the exploitative economic relations that trapped farm workers in a cycle of poverty. Facebook inadvertently reinforced these polarised perspectives by algorithmic curation of news manifest in the form of filter bubbles and echo chambers that isolated users from alternate views. Hall’s theory of encoding/decoding showed that interpretation of the corpus emanated from individual subjectivities which ventilated pre-existing bias by hegemonic and negotiated readings when news corresponded to their interest and oppositional readings when it did not. Both critical discourse analysis and Hall’s encoding/decoding theories, when viewed in relation to citizen journalism in the form of Facebook comments, decentered the role of BBC News and IOL in communicating hegemonic ideologies and messages to consumers.
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    Representations of home, dislocation, and resilience in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah.
    (2021) Hordyk, Mia.; Dimitriu, Ileana.
    This dissertation aims to explore the literary representations of ‘home’, dislocation and resilience in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (2013). Through a close-text analysis of the migrant trajectory from dislocation (within and beyond the boundaries of the homeland) to the possibility of a permanent return home, I intend to investigate what opportunities there are for migrants to overcome the challenges of uprootedness and reestablish a meaningful sense of ‘home’ and belonging in new spaces. The novel depicts two central protagonists who are estranged from their home country as a consequence of postindependent disenchantment, and whose ways of understanding ‘home’ are further challenged upon their return to a ‘strange’ and unfamiliar Nigeria. I have, therefore, found it necessary to investigate alternative perspectives of ‘home’ that offer a broader and more nuanced understanding of what it means to belong in an increasingly globalised and fluid world. By applying select postcolonial and psychological theoretical concepts and perspectives, this dissertation seeks to explore pathways of managing and overcoming the trauma of emotional and physical dislocation. While acknowledging the severe consequences of border crossing on the migrant’s psyche, I also consider possible coping strategies that initiate a process of building resilience and overcoming adversities. Drawing on recent psychological approaches, I aim to provide a more balanced interpretation of the novel’s depiction of the migrant experience, suggesting that such experiences have the potential to deepen personal growth and world knowledge.
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    Okorafor’s organic fantasy: an Africanfuturist approach to science fiction and gender in Lagoon.
    (2021) Banks, Brett Taylor.; Rossmann, Jean.; Kayat, Jethro Anthony.
    SThis dissertation critically examines Nnedimma Nkemdili (Nnedi) Okorafor’s novel Lagoon (2014a) in terms of how it exemplifies Africanfuturism. I will explore how Okorafor conceptualises her own genre – Africanfuturism – in contradistinction from western speculative fiction as well as from Afrofuturism. To explore Lagoon’s experimental form, I adapt Francis Nyamnjoh’s convivial theory (2015) to estrange postmodernism from its western context, providing an African critical vocabulary to describe Lagoon’s experimental ‘postmodern’ narrative style. I also apply Donna Haraway’s concept of the cyborg ([1985] 2016a) to explore the gendered and ecocritical dimensions of the novel. The cyborg provides a useful analytical tool and lexicon for exploring pluralistic gender identities as it represents an ‘other’ identity which “can suggest a way out of the maze of dualisms in which we have explained our bodies and our tools to ourselves” (Haraway, 2016a). This dissertation explores how Lagoon challenges western cultural hegemony and recentres Africa in the global imaginary by taking the traditional tools of science fiction (advanced technology, magical powers, ‘first contact’ narratives) and subverts or reappropriates them to suit the goals of Africanfuturism. I focus on the plurivocal, fragmented structure of the novel and argue that Okorafor includes these elements to celebrate perpetual incompleteness and the reliance of the individual on the collective, rather than the superiority of individual subjectivity. For Okorafor, ontological ‘incompleteness’ (as propounded by Nyamnjoh) is the recognition of the self’s capacity for growth and new connections/understandings of our relationship to the natural world rather than a terminal point of development or a signal for nihilistic despair. My employment of Donna Haraway’s theorisation of the cyborg identity and the chimeric nature it propounds helps explore the gendered aspects of the novel. I also seek to link the concepts of ecological degradation and the patriarchal oppression of women to one of the broader goals of Okorafor’s Africanfuturism, which is to create a space for literature which is free from the oppressive binary codes of western imperialism. Lastly, I highlight the broader significance of Africanfuturist narratives in a post-colonial literary context, and comment on the broader ethical and political implications of Okorafor’s Africanfuturist project by discussing the potential of speculative fiction and Africanfuturism
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    Representations of home, dislocation, and nostalgia in select contemporary South African novels.
    (2021) Naidoo, Lavasha.; Dimitriu, Ileana.
    This dissertation analyses the literary representation of home in Michiel Heyns’s Lost Ground (2011) and Zoë Wicomb’s October (2014), by investigating the fictional reflection of the (e)migrant’s ‘home visit’. I am interested in the trope of the return-home visit as representing a turning point in the migrant’s trajectory, an event which initiates a crisis of identity and challenges conventional understandings of home and belonging. While most critical studies have addressed the migrant’s experience in the ‘host’ country to investigate issues of ‘home’, ‘belonging’, and ‘identity’, I argue that focusing on the migrant’s visit to the original ‘home’ country can offer equally valuable insights into such postcolonial concerns. By drawing on relevant critical studies and theoretical perspectives — for example, Marschall’s seminal research on the issue of the migrant’s home visit (2017, 2018) — this dissertation examines the literary representation of the migrant’s ‘return-home visit’ in two contemporary South African novels. Each novel presents a migrant protagonist who has spent a significant amount of time in another country, and whose return visit to the original home is problematic and depicted through a nostalgically reflective and self-critical gaze. Based on a postcolonial theoretical framework, I analyse the representation of the migrant’s home visit as a liminal experience marked by conditions of alienation, dislocation, and nostalgia. This dissertation, therefore, emphasises the return-home visit as a significant life event during which migrants reflect deeply on their personal histories and their individual understanding of ‘home’. The literary trope of the return-home visit, which in turn reveals the psychological intricacies of the migrant condition, further emphasises the instability of ‘home’ and the inevitable psychological disruption and dislocation associated with the journey across borders.
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    Re-inventing Zuluness : from ethnic separatism to democratic multiculturalism.
    (1994) Mathieson, Susan Clare.; Attwell, David.
    Abstract available in PDF.
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    South African writers in exile: a search for identity and common threads in their writing.
    (1995) Levin, Nonceba.; Gardner, Colin Oxenham.
    Abstract available in PDF.
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    The familial reconfiguration of the subject of cultural discourse in Tsitsi Dangarembga's Nervous conditions.
    (1996) Masemola, Kgomotso.; Arnott, Jill Margaret.
    Abstract available in PDF.
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    Using self-identity and brand personality in advertising appeals: a Unilever Dove case study.
    (2020) Dube, Mavundura Layla Nomcebo.; Wade, Jean-Philippe.; Sewchurran, Anusharani.
    The rise in popular culture and the growing power of brands led to factoring consumers and their self-concept, their buying power and interests as a part of the strategies implemented for the purpose of advertising. Brand development and the sustainability of brands over time required the adjustment of looking at brands from a singular lens of mass production to that of consumer-driven interest. Meanwhile, within consumer studies, an in-depth look into consumer habits and behaviours from their everyday life experience garnered the attention of cultural studies academics. Thus, slowly resulted in the academic debate of consumer consumption power and what that power meant for the lives consumers lived and impact consumption power has on different cultures and subcultures. Both frontiers of academia, namely that of cultural studies and marketing resulted in corpus discoveries of academic literature that contributed to the understanding of consumers within the market. Consumer Cultural Theory (CCT) was born out of the necessity to try and understand the ever-evolving role of the consumer within the market and the impacting role that the consumer can play based on their levels of consumption. CCT was an attempt taken by scholars to try and integrate marketing and cultural studies with the hopes that this integration will provide beneficial results in the development of consumer studies. The diversity in the academic approaches to studying consumers within these disciplines became an integral reason behind researching from an interdisciplinary standpoint. With this study, it is pertinent to investigate brand development through consumer cultural meaning by studying to understand the influence of an individual’s self-identity and brand personality could impact the advertisements they chose to engage. The Dove Real Beauty Campaign utilised as a reference to brand managers understanding consumers and a means of looking into the beauty industry. This study focuses on the resonance of the self-identity (widely studied within cultural studies) to the creation of advertising appeals (studied at great length within marketing).
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    A study of masculinity, memory and trauma in Niq Mhlongo’s Way Back Home.
    (2019) Inarmal, Nadia.; Rossmann, Jean.
    In this dissertation I explore the representations of ‘struggle’ masculinity and the trauma of black masculinity in Niq Mhlongo’s Way Back Home (2013). My primary focus in this regard is Kimathi, the novel’s protagonist. I begin with situating the novel in the current literary landscape as a posttransitional novel (Frenkel and MacKenzie 2010). I rely on readings on the phenomenology of gender by Raewyn Connell (1995 and 2005) to illustrate how Kimathi subscribes to a harmful form of hegemonic masculinity. Marrying Connell’s concept with Pumla Dineo Gqola’s (2007 and 2009) commentaries on the performance of ‘spectacular’ masculinities in South Africa, I argue that Kimathi is interpellated by the radicalised ideals of the anti-apartheid struggle. Reading Judith Butler (2002) in conjunction with Frantz Fanon (1986), I examine the intersections of race, gender and history to discuss how the ‘woundedness’ of Kimathi’s postcolonial male identity is masked by an exaggerated performance of masculinity. In relation to his performance I consider how greed and corruption are presented as masculine qualities in the novel, and how the satirisation of male greed is intended as a criticism of South Africa’s ruling elite. I explore how the novel invokes the uncanny, and foregrounds Kimathi’s repression of crimes he committed against the character Senami. I argue that Senami, as a ghost and an uncanny figure in the present of the text, signifies a return of the repressed. Through her journey, the novel advocates for the import and ethics of remembering the past. The return of the repressed also has a broader socio-political significance, as it resonates with issues in the post-apartheid social text. Consequently, I offer an intertextual analysis of how Way Back Home speaks to the silences in memory left by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which contribute to the unresolved trauma felt by many South Africans. Finally, I discuss the polysemy and ambivalence of ‘home’ in the novel, as both a place of belonging and a place of origin, but also as a repository of history. I apply Homi Bhabha’s (1992) theory on the “unhomely” to explore Kimathi’s psychic disorientation as an exile-at-home. I argue that the loss of home (material and spiritual) constitutes a trauma of displacement for Kimathi and Senami. I consider what the return home involves for these characters, and whether this return suggests the possibility of closure, both for them and for South Africa as a nation. As a concluding point, I observe how the novel invokes Njabulo Ndebele’s (2010) assertion that we have “yet to return home” to justice and the ideals of democracy, implied in the novel’s preference for retributive, rather than restorative, justice.
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    Towards a transnational and intercultural literary perspective : continuity or discontinuity?
    (2001) Ngcobo, Mqondisi Wiseman.; Gunner, Elizabeth.
    Abstract available in the PDF.
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    Telling tales: life writing from the inner-city and a critical reflection on the ethics of non-fiction storytelling.
    (2020) Groves, Sarah Anne.; Scott, Claire.
    This thesis comprises a creative component entitled They won't come for us here, and a reflective component which examines the ethics of non-fiction storytelling. They won't come for us here is a compilation of life-writing and memoir produced and recorded during a three and a half year period spent living in the South African inner-city of Pietermaritzburg. It is a collection of lyric essays, and free-verse poetry, that investigates and narrates the lives of inner-city inhabitants, whilst reflectively interrogating the life of the narrator. The compilation adopts a chronological approach, telling peoples’ stories as the narrator meets them. This chronology is then interspersed with reflective records from the narrator’s childhood in apartheid South Africa, records which attempt to explain and self-interrogate the perceived prejudiced and classist response of a white, middle-class narrator to a mixed-race, mixed-class inner-city. The creation of They won’t come for us here raised a number of ethical issues common to non-fiction storytelling, issues most commonly divided into the categories of privacy protection and creative license. To engage with these issues effectively the reflective component focuses on analysing the ethical decision-making of a selection of creative non-fiction writers. These writers include American essayists, such as David Sedaris and Joan Didion, and South African literary journalists, such as Antjie Krog and Jonny Steinberg. The ethical choices that confront creative non-fiction writers range from the challenge of the unequal power balance experienced by immersion journalists to the challenge of recreation by imagination or memory experienced by most memoirists. After analysing the discussions and choices around the ethical decisions of a selection of creative non-fiction-fiction writers, the reflective component develops three frameworks that could support writers as they analyse their work: the framework of emotional truth versus factual truth, the framework of artistic clarity versus ethical clarity, and the framework of obligation to subject, topic and reader. Finally, these frameworks are used to analyse They won't come for us here, reflectively questioning the ethical decisions that were made in the creation of this document, decisions that range from those common to all forms of immersion storytelling to those common to the South African context, in which, predominantly, white voices record black stories.
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    Race trouble: An exploration of race relations in Zebra crossing, coconut and the book of memory by Meg Vandermerwe, Kopano Matlwa and Petina Gappah.
    (2020) McCabe, Travis Guy.; Scott, Claire.
    Despite the formalised abolishment of both apartheid and colonialism, it would in many respects be remiss to conclude that the legacy of these systems of oppression do not continue to exert some level of influence on the attitudes and behaviour of individuals and groups. Alistair Fraser (2007) refers to this phenomenon as the “colonial present” (836) which “highlights the endurance, persistence or reactivation of particular colonial-style relations” (836, italics in original), alluding to a framework of relations that persists in the post-colonial and post-apartheid setting that is characterised by inequality and oppression despite systemic changes to national systems of government and the introduction of policies that have sought to redress past racial inequalities and introduce racial equity. In Coconut (2007), Zebra Crossing (2013) and The Book of Memory (2015) by Kopano Matlwa, Meg Vandermerwe and Petina Gappah, my central research question is to investigate how the conditions of race relations that were set up in the colonial past continue to influence the colonial present as it is depicted in the novels. While much research has been done in examining the respective eras of colonialism and apartheid, focus has often not been placed on the nuances of conflict, anxiety and competition that characterises these new spaces as it relates to issues of identity, belonging, exclusion and interracial interaction. Complicating this transition into a new democratic dispensation in both Zimbabwe and South Africa is the intrusion of the past into the present, in the form of the influence of whiteness that problematises racial relations, creating situations of crisis and conflict. To determine to what extent the practices that characterise the everyday lives of individuals and groups invoke the legacy of apartheid and colonialism and what effect this potentially has on race relations as it is depicted in the novels, the perspective of race trouble, conceptualised by Durrheim, Mtose and Brown (2011), is used as a central framework. Within the perspective of race trouble, three constructs will be used to analyse the novels, namely that of discourse, practices and ideology. Ideas regarding the nature of discourse, with particular emphasis on whiteness as an institutional construct, will be primarily used in examination of Coconut, while the notion of everyday practices will be used to analyse The Book of Memory and finally, ideology to look at Zebra Crossing. Within the construct of practices, I primarily explore the nature of the practices that characterise the everyday lives of the characters in constructing notions of place identity and a sense of attachment to various environments and how these environments influence identity, self-perception and belonging. In Zebra Crossing, I analyse how dominant ideology constructs subjects to behave and think in certain ways, with the concept of ‘othering’ providing a tangible link between the presence of ideology and the emergence of the subject.