Black Consciousness and the politics of writing the nation in South Africa

Penfold, Thomas William (2013). Black Consciousness and the politics of writing the nation in South Africa. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Since the transition from apartheid, there has been much discussion of the possibilities for the emergence of a truly ‘national’ literature in South Africa. This thesis joins the debate by arguing that Black Consciousness, a movement that began in the late 1960s, provided the intellectual framework both for understanding how a national culture would develop and for recognising it when it emerged. Black Consciousness posited a South Africa where formerly competing cultures sat comfortably together. This thesis explores whether such cultural equality has been achieved. Does contemporary literature harmoniously deploy different cultural idioms simultaneously? By analysing Black writing, mainly poetry, from the 1970s through to the present, the study traces the stages of development preceding the emergence of a possible ‘national’ literature and argues that the dominant art versus politics binary needs to be reconsidered. Emphasising the long-term influences of education and language policy, and of publishing, the thesis documents the continuous dialogue of art and politics in South Africa, and in the process unpicks the paradox of South Africa’s (un)national literature.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of African Studies and Anthropology
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT Africa
P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania


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