English 276b
L McGrane
TTH 11:30-1
HU/Africana St


Literature and Politics of South African Apartheid


This course explores literary, historical, and popular material productions of South African apartheid from its inception in 1948 to the present, with a particular focus on the role of memory, illness, and xenophobia in contemporary politics.  We will consider the interplay between categories of race, gender/sexuality, nation, and class in fiction, plays, newspapers, and films that reflect the apartheid years and their legacy today.  We will also discuss the tension between an ethics and aesthetics of literary production and artistic memory in contemporary South Africa.  How do current issues of xenophobia, HIV-AIDS, cultural display, and economic stratification re-inhabit historical forms of violence even as they inspire new literary and artistic productions?   What would it mean for one to write or film an apolitical text in a cultural space rife with racial and social tensions?  How does an author’s identify affect both the efficacy and significance of his or her literary production?  Authors may include (among others) Miriam Tlali, Alan Paton, Athol Fugard, Njabulo Ndebele, and Zakes Mda.

Possible Readings:

Zakes Mda, The Heart of Redness
Alan Paton, Cry, The Beloved Country
Miriam Tlali, Footprints in the Quag
J.M. Coetzee, Life and Times of Michael K
Athol Fugard, Sizwe Bansi is Dead
Njabulo Ndebele, Fools and Other Stories
Steve Biko, I Write What I Like
Nadine Gordimer, July’s People
Allister Sparks, Tomorrow is Another Country (excerpts)
Phaswane Mpe, Welcome to Our Hillbrow
Antijie Krog, Country of My Skull

Films: Long Night’s Journey Into Day (1999-2000)
Tsotsi (2005)
     District 9 (2009)

Course Requirements:
Group Presentations on cultural and political materials
Two Reflection Papers
Mid-Term and Final Exam/ or Final Paper (10 Pages)
Two film viewings

English 276b satisfies the “introductory emphasis” requirement for the Haverford English Major.