Writing South Africa: Race, Nation and Text

Level 6 (15 credits)

This module introduces students to a range of writing and contemporary cultural production from late- and post-apartheid South Africa. South African writers and artists have produced some extraordinary writing and other cultural production - engaged, politically charged, experimental - over the past three decades. This has been in response first to oppressive conditions in the late-apartheid state, then to the excitement of the dawn of a New South Africain 1994, to the trauma of the process of truth-telling and reconciliation that followed, and to the multiple difficulties faced by the developing state. Students will engage with this material's historical and political circumstances, and consider such issues as: the aesthetics of protest; narrative responsibility and the ethics of representing trauma; writing the post-apartheid city; gender and home in the new nation. Authors studied may include J.M. Coetzee, Antjie Krog, Zakes Mda, Njabulo Ndebele, Ivan Vladislavic and Zo Wicomb.

Preparing for this Module and Approximate Costs

There is no advance preparation for this module. 

 Students are strongly encouraged to purchase printed copies of the primary texts, rather than e-versions. Note that these costs can be often be reduced by purchasing items second-hand or borrowing them from the Library. 

Why take
Writing South Africa: Race, Nation and Text

  • If you enjoyed other postcolonial modules and would like an opportunity to study the literary culture, racial politics and postcolonial history of South Africa in much greater detail, then this is the module for you.
  • If you want to think more about the relationship between aesthetic freedom and state repression, then this is the module for you.
  • If you enjoy discussing and debating key contemporary topics, including race and racial injustice, the nation state, epidemics, migration, queerness, and environmentalism, among many others, then this is the module for you. 
Learning Context Long Seminar
Semester One
  1. Class Presentation (10 min), 15%
  2. Short Assignment (800 words), 20%
  3. Essay (2500 words), 65%
Mode of reassessment Standard