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Title: Violent southern spaces : myth, memory, and the body in literatures of South Africa and the American South
Author: Greenfield, Denise
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2013
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‘Violent Southern Spaces’ examines the narratives, archetypes and metaphors of memory, myth and the body that writers from South Africa and the American South have used to contest histories of racial oppression and segregation. In so doing, it seeks to identify significant transnational interactions and connections between the aesthetic forms, politics and histories of literary texts from South Africa and the United States. By analysing texts and situations that are both analogous and singular, this thesis utilizes Jean-Luc Nancy’s Inoperative Community as well as Sam Durrant’s Postcolonial Narrative and the Work of Mourning to depict how works of literature interrupt Southern and South African forms of community as well as the myths upon which they are founded. Chapter One examines the tension between the narrative and anti-narrative dimensions of trauma in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! and Zoë Wicomb’s David’s Story and considers the conditions under which cultural trauma not only exposes the subject as a singularity, but also serves to create community via a collective identification with a mythic past. In their focus on the interruption of community as well as the disruption of the trauma narrative, these texts help us to better understand how certain myths have come to define the nation or region. Chapter Two considers the manner in which community is enacted through departure in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Achmat Dangor’s Bitter Fruit. Depicted as either a movement towards a more traditional notion of community and communion, or an exposure of the limits of community, there is a certain type of freedom evidenced in such departures—a freedom intimately connected to the being-in-common of community. Finally, in Chapter Three Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina and Marlene van Niekerk’s Triomf are compared in order to demonstrate how both writers interrogate the excessive accessibility that has come to define the poor white community whilst also writing communities akin to Nancy’s ‘community without unity’. This chapter further examines how both texts depict community as an active, interruptive idea, a continual unworking of totalising and exclusionary myths of collectivity upon which community (and the nation) is formed.
Supervisor: Morton, Stephen ; McDonald, Gail Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PE English