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Title: ‘A mirror with two sides’ : liminal narratives and spaces of gender violence and communitas in South African writing, 1960–present
Author: Gunne, Sorcha
ISNI:       0000 0004 2693 619X
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis examines the gendered and racialised representations of social spaces in apartheid and post-apartheid writing. My research methodology incorporates a variety of literary and culture theories, including postcolonial theory, feminism and anthropology. I begin with a reading of J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, examining the problematic paradigms of race and gender relations in post-apartheid South Africa which Coetzee represents through rape. Of particular importance is the idea of liminality and in the introduction I establish my interpretation of liminality amongst other theorists. I contend that the very fruitfulness of liminality as an analytical tool lies in its prismatic qualities that give rise to multiple possibilities of meaning. The complex nuances of liminality’s ‘betwixt and betweenness’ and its ‘undefinability’ are conducive to an examination of violence and violation. Simultaneously, however, liminality is also conducive to an examination of communitas or productive social relations predicated on a deep-rooted sense of shared experience. Informed by the analysis of Disgrace and the discussion of liminality in the introduction, each of the three main chapters focuses on a different thematic space. Starting with a discussion of Ruth First’s 117 Days, chapter 2 examines how the prison is a site of deactivation and conversely of collective revolutionary consciousness. I explore how Nadine Gordimer’s Burger’s Daughter, Kagiso Lesego Molope’s Dancing in the Dust and Mongane Serote’s To Every Birth Its Blood, represent prison as a rite of passage. I also investigate how Antjie Krog in Country of my Skull, Caesarina Kona Makhoere in No Child’s Play and Lauretta Ngcobo in And They Didn’t Die contest deactivation. Chapter 3 considers urban spaces in terms of liminality in Ngcobo’s And They Didn’t Die. This chapter also discusses the potential for anti-apartheid protest in Serote’s To Every Birth Its Blood and Molope’s Dancing in the Dust and the liminality of post-apartheid urban landscapes in Achmat Dangor’s Bitter Fruit and Ivan Vladislavić’s Portrait with Keys: The City of Johannesburg Unlocked. Finally, analysing the train as a site of mobile incarceration in Coetzee’s The Life and Times of Michael K, chapter 4 also considers the varied representations of the train in To Every Birth Its Blood and Third World Express by Serote, Ngcobo’s And They Didn’t Die, Molope’s Dancing in the Dust, ‘Home Sweet Home’ by Zoё Wicomb and other short stories by Miriam Tlali.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania