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 Recent Theses

Current and Recent MA and PhD Theses

The titles and abstracts below are a guide to the range of work being supervised in the UWC English Department.

Addei, C 3479184 (PhD)
This study explores how selected West African war novels employ non-realist narrative modes to portray disruptions in child development. The novels are Delia Jarrett-Macauley’s Moses, Citizen and Me (2005), Uzodinma Iweala’s Beasts of No Nation (2005) Ahmadou Kourouma’s Allah is Not Obliged (2006), and Chris Abani’s Song for Night (2007). These novels strain at the conventions of realism as a consequence of the attempt to represent the disruptions in child development as a result of the upheavals of war. A core proposition of the study is to analyse why the authors in question are obliged to employ non-realist modes in representing disrupted childhoods that reflect the social and cultural disorder attendant upon war. The dissertation also asks pertinent questions regarding the ideological effect of these narrative strategies and the effect of the particular stylistic idiosyncrasies of each of the authors in figuring childhood in postcolonial Africa. The novels in question employ magical realism, surrealism, the grotesque and the absurd in presenting the first person narratives of children in war situations, or the reflections of adult narrators on children affected by war. This study further analyses the ways the aesthetic modes employed by these authors underscore, in particular, children’s experiences of war. Through strategic use of specific literary techniques, these authors highlight questions of vulnerability, powerlessness and violence on children, as a group that has been victimised and co-opted into violence. The study will further consider how these narrative transformations in the representations of children in novels, capture transformations in ideas about childhood in postcolonial Africa.

Annin, F 3674118 (PhD)
The work of the well-known Kenyan writer- Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is striking for the dominance of the intimate relationships it displays. From the first novels in the early 1960s to the novels published in the past few years, romantic love seems to play a very significant role in Ngũgĩ’s understanding of the degraded society around him and his vision of a future better society. This is the case for his short fiction and plays also. Politically, Ngũgĩ identifies himself as a Marxist, anti-colonialist/imperialist, anti-capitalist writer, for whom there is no contradiction between an aesthetic and political project. The thesis will explore the role of the romantic love relationship in Ngũgĩ’s fiction and why this concern does not appear in Ngũgĩ’s essays that present his political and creative vision. It will consider the specifics of the relationships presented across the full range of fiction and the significance of these relationships. Key ideas include love as breaking boundaries of ethnicity, religion and class in the creation of a modern nation, in which traditional cultural values are still held dear by Ngũgĩ. The thesis will also consider the role of love in the context of struggle, hardship and tyranny, the link between romantic love and polygamous and monogamous marriages, and the consequences and implications of betrayal of love, often in the form of adultery. The study will be conceptualized against the backdrop of the lack of focused attention to personal relationships, especially romantic love, in African literature until very recently.

Bizela, S 3029479 (MA)
Dominant scholarship on oral studies positions orality in the background of writing, so as to suggest that this tradition is in the past of, and serves as a reservoir for, written literature. However, such approaches reveal theoretical gaps, highlighted by the effaced position of the black woman as a storyteller. I begin by examining the representation of Sycorax in both William Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Aime Cesaire’s A Tempest. Even though Shakespeare is quite ambiguous about her racial identity, I interpret Sycorax – whose story is told by male characters – as a black woman. I seek to establish that her present absence in the play allegorizes the place of orality in black writing. I then engage debates in studies of orality, problematizing progressivist approaches. I argue that writing is not necessarily development from orality, but the latter maintains its spectral presence in writing. I propose that the denigration of oral culture equates the suppression of the authorial role of women as storytellers. I then argue that while Winnie Mandela’s role as ‘Mother of the Nation’ – a storyteller in her own right – gets trivialized into Mandela’s shadow, Sindiwe Magona’s narratives get forced into the shadow of the black literary canon.

Gcwadi, MT 3698087 (MA CW)
The undercurrent in my novel, “Dreaming to be Colourless” will explore how identity in African communities can traumatise those considered to be different, especially during the Apartheid times with its obsession with classification. This fictional work will use memory and oral tradition from real people that I know, as wells as my own experiences growing up in Cape Town during the 1980s.
This plot is constructed with two narratives: a mother and daughter, the one in Cape Town the other in the village of Khiba and will focus on the unescapable reality of exploitation, separation, racism and equality in South Africa. The characters unsuccessfully try to escape their past, bodies, and places, while struggling to identify with their identity and the unjust labels they receive in various places. The novel is mostly about resisting rejection, abandonment, exploitation, breaking down the culture of silence and the African view of culture and identity. It is about focusing on the need to belong and human resilience to forgive. The narrative will emanate from rejected voices.

Gilburt, I 3373098 (PhD)
This thesis explores the cinematic and photographic visuality inscribed in J. M. Coetzee’s novels and other writings. Coetzee’s use of visuality is extensive and complex, with photographs featured in several novels, from his first novel Dusklands (1974) to the more recent Childhood of Jesus (2013). Coetzee’s diverse cinematic style employs film montage editing, chiaroscuro lighting effects, and an attentiveness to camera framing and point of view to structure several prose fictions. There is furthermore evidence that the staging of key scenes in several fictions is modelled on photographic processes of capture and development. The analysis of Coetzee’s visuality will be informed by the author’s interest in film and photography, which will be traced through Coetzee’s screenplay adaptations, autobiographical reflections, essay commentary on visual media, and background in amateur photography.
This study will examine a range of Coetzee’s writings, but will pay particular attention to his second novel In the Heart of the Country (1977). Through detailed textual analysis, I aim to identify the visible presence of film and photography in Coetzee’s work. The term visible denotes the textual evidence (imagery, motifs, and phrasing) that create connections to cinematic and photographic techniques as well as to three specific film texts: Chris Marker’s La Jetée (1963), Andrzej Munk’s Pasażerka (1963), and Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville (1965). An argument will also be developed in this thesis to show that media influences are not limited to aesthetic concerns but also extend to narrative choices and to thematic engagements with time.
This analysis of In the Heart of the Country will form a foundation for reinterpreting Coetzee’s earlier and later fictions. Several fictions will be incorporated into a broader understanding of media influences. A more detailed analysis will then be used to examine the strong media connections between In the Heart of the Country and the novel Life & Times of Michael K (1983), demonstrating how Coetzee’s two Karoo novels can also be understood as cinematographic counterparts, thus affirming the central and continuing influence of the formal, cinematographic developments in In the Heart of the Country.   

Hagemann, ME 2411553 (PhD)
Poetry that is rooted in that most extreme of human experiences, war, continues to grip the public imagination. In this short paper, I wish to outline my investigations of the poetry written by Chas Lotter, a soldier who fought in the Rhodesian Army during the Zimbabwean liberation war (1965‐1980). The poetry under scrutiny comes from the “losing side” in a colonial war of liberation and poses important moral and ethical questions. Rhodesia was an archetypal settler colonial construct, and part of my rationale is to consider the circumstances and social conditions that would propel a thoughtful and articulate man to participate willingly in the Rhodesian regime’s ideological and military aims and show how his poetry reflects changes of attitude that occur as the war escalates towards the final defeat of white Rhodesia.

Jacobs, JP 3609714 (MA CW)
A Cloud in Her Eye is a work of fiction that is drawn largely from my experience of living and studying in Ireland for half a year. That time inspired me to represent something of Ireland’s tragic history through an individual. The key theme will be found in the self-justification of the individual’s action and a hypocritical inner dialogue surrounding it. There will be a subtle but important metaphoric link – a representation of past generations in one person, and of history in the present.
Being essentially concerned with the workings of hypocrisy, the novel will require some moral content, but this will be done without moral endorsement, because the interest is not in a particular set of convictions but rather the subjective mechanism by which those convictions are simultaneously affirmed and contravened.
Well known Victorian novels dealing with hypocrisy, such as The Scarlet Letter, tend to expose and represent actions with sufficient clarity to allow the reader to form a definitive and absolute moral judgement, almost always negative. I would like to opt for a more subtle narrative approach, one that uses the technique of the unreliable narrator in such a way that the hypocrisy seems understandable, or at least permits a certain degree of reader empathy (although not necessarily agreement) with the characters’ problematic positions and actions. In so doing, I hope to explore how ‘good’ people can perform morally questionable deeds and, following from that, how nations (since they can be viewed as conglomerates of subjective individuals) come to condone large-scale atrocities.
Tragedies in which the lead is a female generally fall into a genre known as “she” tragedies, which tend to hone in on the sufferings of women, often emphasising gender subordinance (Liebler 9). A Cloud in her Eye will step away from this by making use of a number of the generic features of the tragic hero, rather than heroine, with regards to the protagonist, Rae. It will also seek to subvert traditional expectations regarding the tragic plot, such as closure.

Lange, JC 2762585 (MA CW)
The Things We do, But Dare Not Say, is a collection of seven stories that form part of a novella with the general theme of intergenerational trauma among Coloured families in Cape Town. The stories are arranged in a montage of internally focalised narratives that span over a century, from 1900 through to 2016, and are fictionalised accounts of real events, categorising them as biographical fiction. Some of the specific topics covered in the stories include incest and molestation, substance abuse, insanity, race identification and denial, and interracial romance.
The body of work is conceived in the context of the twentieth century trauma narrative, the complexities of which run through most of the important works created since the 1800s, from Schreiner to Coetzee, but which has largely lacked a female perspective, especially females of colour. The stories aim to depict a group of people, who, through centuries of oppression in the form of slavery, servitude and segregation, have developed various coping mechanisms to make sense of their own identity in an absurdly cruel social landscape. The stories focus on the use of humour as a survival mechanism after generations of trauma, as well as the abuse of substances and people in the absence of real intervention, that, in a sense, have been the hallmarks of Coloured South Africa.
The stories are told in a split narrative perspective, showing multiple perspectives of the same story, and are the perspectives range from young to old and cross the gender divide as well as time and space. Ultimately, The Things we Do, But Dare Not Say, is a depiction of the complexities of lives lived under oppression, and the triumphs and challenges faced in trying to resolve, live through or deny the effects of such oppression on a group and the individuals that make up that group.

La Vita, RC 3227442 (MA)
Films allow their audience glimpses into spaces and experiences new and unknown to them and it is by this means that Africa and the African people have been represented to the world at large for over a century. Since the colonial period images of  Sub-Saharan Africa as “Black Africa” or “The Dark Continent” have been perpetuated by the “ Western” world in film. Even though Senegal gained its independence France, in 1960, Ousmane Sembene’s films strove for an even greater liberation from France, which could only be had by changing the ways of thinking and behaving that the colonial state had enforced and programmed the African people to adopt. I say African people because although Sembene makes films in a Senegalese context, their applications and teaching remain borderless.
In this paper I will analyse two of Sembene’s feature length films, Xala (1975) and Moolaadé (2004). I aim to analyse Xala and Moolaadé separately but by using the same measures of analysis which are; the language practices within the films, the extent to which each film can be positioned as oral texts, the depictions of indigenous knowledge and its relationship with its colonial designation, the positioning of the African as the subject in film and how it relates to power and voice in Western feature film. It is my belief that in doing so, that I may be able to situate the films of Ousmane Sembene as decolonial texts.

Levy, MP 3601670 (MA CW)
The theme of this project is “homelessness” and “loss” as three individuals from different generations of a family are driven from their homes. Sam leaves a Jewish, middle class home in Germany in the mid-1930s to visit South Africa, but World War II prevents his return. His family is killed in the Holocaust and he sets up home running a compound store on the edge of a black township. In the late 1960s, his grandson, Reuben, 10, is sent to live with him. Sam is solitary and depressed and Reuben is left to run wild in the veld and nearby township. As an adult Reuben feels displaced and in his solitude believes Israel will be the home he seeks. A failed relationship leaves him with a very young son, Dov, and together they pursue the Zionist dream by settling in Israel. There Reuben learns the truth of the emergence of the State of Israel and its illegal occupation of Palestine. He becomes deeply disillusioned, but Dov remains fiercely patriotic, resulting in their estrangement. When the pathology of Israeli militarism drives Dov to a breakdown, he calls out to his father to rescue him and take him home. Together they set out to find what or where home is. My story about Palestinian expulsion and the Israeli Occupation is written from the South African experience of brutal dispossession and oppression and explores what it means to take your place among those responsible for the wrongs committed by humankind.

Matthews, AV 2401039 (PhD)
This paper will focus on the theme of memory as it relates to community in selected short stories from Zoë Wicomb’s collection You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town. Memory will be considered in two senses: voluntary and conservation; involuntary and destructive. Furthermore, memory will be considered as a trace that is manifested in the act or process or practice of writing. And more pertinently, this memory-writing will be discussed with notions of community in mind. Two theoretical texts that will guide this exploration are Homi K. Bhabha’s Location of Culture, especially the essays “DissemiNation” and “How Newness Enters the World” and Jean-Luc Nancy’s “The Inoperable Community”. In the former texts, Benedict Anderson’s notion of the “imagined” community is interrogated by Bhabha, who proposes a more radical discontinuity or rupture with space and time that leads to the formation of the community than that which Anderson considers. In the latter text, Nancy holds that instead of notions of gathering or fusion that bind together a community, a rupture (called an “ecstatic opening”) interrupts the conglomeration of individuals into a totality.

Nxadi, SRJ 3693178 (MA)
BAB'ABA: Ugly Short Stories
Under the rubric of 'Migrating Violence' I have begun a writing project that will attempt to map connections between the aesthetic and violence. The question of hyper visibility, marginality, and violence in the Black novel -- looking particularly at ugliness as a means of articulating the notion of hyper visibility and hyper vulnerability -- has become a central question as I have been reading towards this degree. What is the relationship between ugliness and violence? It seems to me that ugliness is a means of communicating a type of violence that transcends the physical realm; a violence that ricochets unencumbered throughout the being of the subject through time, between the abstract and the physical, and between the protagonist, narrator and the reader. The way in which violence moves and the waste that it leaves in its wake is not bound by dominant sensitivities or sensibilities. We seemingly tend towards prioritising the event/point of impact especially when referencing Black life and experience. We speak and write of the guttural, we speak and write of bodies. I am interested in exploring the after and the between. Through my writing, I will be looking at the absorption of the grotesque into the banal. The project will be experimental in its form using poetry, long prose, and stage writing as means of expression. With the voices of Black women characters across age groups, I will testify on the violence of packaging for palatability and the manner in which one's experience can be emptied out by a disinterested gaze that only sees ugliness. I will do this, first and foremost, for the women I write from.

Odendaal, FJ 3692716 (MA CW)
Bone Dancer is a travel memoir that relates the experiences of a character living in present-day South Africa. The narrator is learned but simple man who, after having expended his proverbial nine lives retraces his steps to some of the places he knew decades ago, hoping to gain insight into his own heart, and ultimately the future of humankind. This global ramble is driven by a sequence of stories: vivid descriptions of people and place, inundated by a constantly changing melée of colours, smells and textures.
As his quest intensifies, an underlying theme emerges: hope and the ‘heart of darkness’ duelling it out like a pair of banjos to seal our fate on the Planet. At first the score is easy enough to follow when slave descendants and land owners contest a holy mountain in Mauritius, when nomadic goat herders take on diamond mines in Namaqualand, or when indigenous peoples in Ecuador stand up against oil companies. But then the line between good and evil blurs, and each new vignette tells a story that leaves it up to the reader to find the courage to assimilate, interpret and digest.
The preamble gives insight into how our ancestors lived 120 000 years ago, humans like us, already carrying the seed of destruction that may cause the collapse of human society. Nine chapters follow that progressively examine the ‘heart of darkness’, while reflecting on points of light that may postpone our eventual demise. In the final chapter, a crescendo is reached deep in the tropical rainforests of Madagascar when the narrator holds up the exhumed skull of his best friend. Having vacillated long between the roles of subject and investigator, he becomes in this moment the Bone Dancer, and is afforded a look into the spiritual world of ancestors.
In tracking the narrator’s own steps, his travel memoir simultaneously examines the trajectory of humanity itself. It reaches back into the dim past not long after the ascent of modern humans, and after a global ramble through modern day times uses a postscript to end the story in the near future.

Orner, PJ 9197859 (MA CW)
Lady Liberty is a work of fiction which has been conceptualized in conversation with critical, literary, and historical notions of the American Dream. It creates a unique, albeit fictional, pathway to lost histories of people whose narratives have been invisible until now by drawing on memories, family anecdotes, folklore, online and other archival resources, documentaries and feature films, photography, and works of fiction and non-fiction. In many ways it is a testament to the resilience of the American Dream. In its entirety, the novel will cover a wide time frame (from the late-nineteenth to the twentieth-first century), and will span three disparate countries – Italy (especially southern Italy), the USA, and South Africa. Although the creative inspiration for the work emanates from my own imagination, it is underscored by what John McClure refers to as the common themes and tropes of immigration, which include “traumas of dislocation and assimilation, journeys out and journeys home, struggles with new languages and new identities, with ghosts and guilt and exaggerated dreams.”
One of the differences to other immigrant fiction will be inclusion of my own story of emigration. I was born and raised in the USA and immigrated to South Africa in 1976. This constitutes an important difference to other immigrant fiction as it tends to represent the reverse scenario. Another difference in this work will be to explore through characterization the historical discrimination of northern Italians towards southern Italians, and how this impacted on identity in the USA. For instance, where southern Italians chose to settle; and how this discrimination affected family members’ experiences and life choices in general.

Rodkin, HA 3687743 (MA CW)
My collection, Of Flowers and Tears, is an eclectic ensemble of fourteen short stories. It will aim to capture the stories and events that have shaped my life, have impacted on my community, and will hopefully give voice to such taboo topics such as mental trauma, sibling strife, abortion, drug use and abuse, suicide, and political and social activism. Whilst none of the topics are new, the collection could potentially add to a growing genre of short story fiction by local authors and the sharing of experiences within a marginalised South African community which is often annoyingly patronized by demeaning sketches.
Mostly, I wish to give a voice to those who have fallen but risen up again, to free themselves from the shackles of secret pains, to give assurance that pride and dignity will not be dented by opening up and reaching out for the freedom of  our individual souls. It is not always necessary as individuals to hide our shame, to cry in private whilst being strong in public; and in so doing, denying the essence of our beings and identities.
As South Africans, we bear similar scars that seal our communal identities; but we do need to assert our rights to our individual origins. We must embrace our differences, our painfully honed identities; and take comfort in developing our personal dreams and desires. The crafting of our identities must be celebrated in spite of the traumas imposed on our forebearers and the resultant decades of echoing agonies in the fight for freedom.
Much of the material used in my collection forms part of my personal memory bank. The more I engage with this project the more I heed my own voice calling for the reclaiming of my own identity as part of the process of reviewing this elusive freedom. This is not unlike the pleading of Robbie Jansen (Capetonian, saxophonist, struggle musician, and cultural activist), “Freedom where have you been hiding yourself, I’ve been looking all over?”  So perhaps this endeavor to write a collection of human experiences is my effort at redemption by allowing the ghosts, which taunt the fragments of my memory, to rest, knowing their cries have been heeded.

Savage, KR 3607341 (MA)
According to William Blake the human spirit and the imagination are restricted by the structures of thought and feeling that are the correlatives of an industrialised society based on rationality and the instrumentalisation of work. This is a major theme running through his poetry in Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. In many of these poems he examines the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, in the late 18th century, and the effects this had on politics, religion and the social norms of that era. As the Industrial Revolution was at its early stages at the time of Blake’s writing, many of his poems reflect and, in some ways, predict what the future would hold as a result of these changes. The issues pertinent to this era - poverty, inequality and injustice – are identified and critiqued in his poetry. These issues, however, were not solved at the turn of the century, but continued through the centuries thereafter. The dire conditions Blake criticises in his Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience are also the focus of many early Victorian novels. The issues of poverty, injustice and child labour described in poems such as ‘London’, ‘Holy Thursday’ and ‘The Chimney Sweeper’ are also a concern of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South and Charles Dickens’ Hard Times. The solace provided by religious belief and the power of the imagination, portrayed with complex ambiguity in the Innocence version of ‘The Chimney Sweeper, is evident in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and most prominently in North and South. The qualities Blake describes as being the essence of humanity, those of human goodness, understanding and “mercy, pity, peace and love” (‘Holy Thursday’, 1.1) are evident in North and South and Hard Times. A “mind forg’d manacle” that will be examined is marriage. In ‘London’ Blake speaks of a “marriage hearse” (line 16), the sense of entrapment caused by an unwanted marriage is evident in the three novels examined in this dissertation. In Jane Eyre, Rochester is unable to divorce his wife Bertha whom he only married to improve the social status of his family. This marriage prevents him from legally marrying Jane. In Hard Times both Louisa and Blackpool are married to people for whom they feel no love, Blackpool’s social status prevents him from divorcing his alcoholic wife and Louisa only married Bounderby to help her brother. In North and South Mrs Hale married for love but was trapped by the lower social status that came from marrying beneath her class. This thesis will read the three Victorian novels primarily through the lens of concepts derived from Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience in order to show the continuities and disjunctions between the two periods of the industrial revolution and also between two periods of English literature that are generally treated separately. It will show how new insight into Victorian literature can be gained through reading it in conjunction with the themes and ideas of the literature that preceded and out of which it grew. Blake has been chosen from among the romantics as the range of his concerns most closely accord with those of the later novelists.

Singh, ND 3224200 (MA)

This thesis explores dimensions of aesthetics in three novels by Indo-Burmese author Amitav Ghosh. While Ghosh’s novels are widely read for their travel, intercultural and non-territorial approaches, I will focus on questions of aesthetics in beauty, nature and form in The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide and The Shadow Lines, respectively. This thesis explores the reasons why Ghosh’s novels seem to highlight aesthetic concerns so significantly. Most surprisingly, in an era where cultural practice cannot exclude feminism, why is female beauty foregrounded so glaringly in The Glass Palace? Similarly, what is the significance of the prominence of nature and the profoundly striking descriptions of nature in The Hungry Tide. Nature quite clearly is part of the aesthetic project in The Hungry Tide. The thesis will thus consider nature aesthetics in philosophical ethics generally, but will also analyse the specifics of the aesthetics of nature in The Hungry Tide. The third question to be considered is the way in which form itself, in particular the form of the genre of the novel, could be construed as the dominant aesthetic in The Shadow Lines. The enquiry into the various forms that the art in each of these novels takes will be discussed in relation to the link between art and pedagogy/ethics in the work of Gayatri Spivak, in particular the anthology of essays, An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization and Elaine Scarry’s, On Beauty and Being Just, Both writers argue that aesthetics are an important part of education that invokes justice, and aspires toward thinking about questions of ethics across disciplines.

Snayer, PI 2516408 (MA)
This study focuses on six plays by playwright, Athol Fugard, in order to explore how memory, the autobiographical and the symbolic serve as key features of his aesthetic method as a playwright. Fugard refers to the point of recognition as the pivotal point from which his writing begins and upon which it is centred. I examine Fugard’s use of symbols, metaphors and allegory as a lens through which to identify his representation of abstract ideas such as memory which has been a thread running through his work. I also examine Fugard’s increasing attention to language and form to analyse how this is represented in his play texts and trace the thread of individual incidents, recorded memories and autobiographical details in them. The following play texts, namely, Hello and Goodbye, Boesman and Lena, Master Harold … and the boys, Valley Song and Sorrows and Rejoicings, have been chosen to understand more closely the role that memory and, what has been termed autobiographical reasoning, plays in each text as a means through which to engage with the past and as a way of understanding its influence on the present. To show how the ‘points of recognition’ that are central to each play are explicated through autobiographical reasoning I draw on some of Fugard’s diaries, notebooks, memoirs and interviews. Identifying how these points of recognition function in the plays also serve as a way of tracking the evolution of Fugard’s aesthetic focus, from the early ‘witnessing plays to the more self-reflexive and autobiographical focus of his later work. Each play text is analysed in view of how language is used to sketch the physical landscape within which each play is set as a means to represent the inner landscape/s of the mind, namely memory, the place where autobiographical reasoning takes place, a place where the conscious and unconscious meet. In order to accomplish this, I draw on existing readings of each play text in comparison with my own.

Steenkamp, LM 3699107 (PhD)
Big geographical spaces such as the national, the diasporic and the global have featured strongly in the work of scholars of African literature and culture such as Dustin Crowley, Achille Mbembe, Homi Bhabha, Brenda Cooper, Tina Steiner and Sarah Nuttall. Urban spaces like Johannesburg, Lagos and Nairobi have received attention as literary cityscapes. Representations of smaller places, however, such as the home, the compound, the market, the train station, the hospital and the hair salon, are relatively unexplored in African literature. My aim in this study is to have a focused approach to places, which I define as the small and personal locales that intersect with the shaping of identity, an example of which is Gabeba Baderoon’s work on the kitchen. However, I also explore spaces, such as the cityscape, that I define as large, less personal expanses that also generate senses of identity and belonging, but by different mechanisms. I examine a mutually constitutive process: the production of female homosociality by these spaces and places, as well as the production of these spaces and places through female homosocial interactions. The goal is to determine the extent to which female homosocial spaces and places produce and maintain different identities and femininities. The primary texts are set in different African contexts: Sefi Atta’s Swallow and Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives (2010) are set in Nigeria, Miral Al-Tahawy’s The Tent (1998) is set in Egypt, and Leila Aboulela’s Lyrics Alley (2012) is set in both Egypt and the Sudan. In this presentation I will discuss a spectrum of spaces and places as represented in Sefi Atta’s Swallow, including national space, cityscapes, village or rural space, private-public places such as the hair salon and market, private places in the domestic, and micro-places, such as a chair, a bench, or even the body.

Van de Rede, L 2838717 (PhD)
In 1994, the world watched as thousands of military personnel, militias and civilians bore arms and killed hundreds of thousands of their countrymen, neighbours, and family in what was an attempt to “rid” Rwanda of the Tutsi minority. The violence of 1994 received the title of genocide only toward the end of the 100 days of its peak, a symptom of which is that, as Mamhood Mamdani asserts “Rwanda is recalled as a time when we thought that we needed to know more; we waited to find out, to learn the difference between Hutu and Tutsi, and why one was killing the other, but it was too late” 1(Mamdani 2010: 1). I want to take seriously here the provocations imbedded in Mamdani’s language and think Rwanda as both a call and a time, and explore some of the implications of this in relation to the ways in which reconciliation in Rwanda is represented within the portraiture of Sasha Longford’s untitled animation film.

Van Heerden, M 3556805 (PhD)
Written feedback plays an integral part in students' development and learning, especially since it often represents the only personal communication students receive about their work. Yet, as much research attests, there is continued dissatisfaction with written feedback for both tutors (as the providers of written feedback) and students (as the receivers). Despite many attempts at 'fixing' the problem of feedback, it prevails. This paper looks at research on feedback and examines the pedagogic purpose of feedback, i.e. why we give feedback, and how this ties in with broader concerns of knowledge and equitable epistemological access. In order to look at the 'why' of feedback, the often tacit / invisible pedagogy of a discipline needs to be made more visible, especially in a discipline like English Studies, where success seems to be elusive and reserved for a lucky few. Using Legitimation Code Theory, and specifically the dimension of Specialisation, to visualize knowledge in the discipline, it becomes possible to get a deeper understanding of what the purpose of written feedback in the discipline should be. This paper argues that problems with written feedback may only be resolved if there is a greater consideration about what the purpose of feedback is.

Vass, V 9833172 (MA)
Zora Neale Hurston is a significant figure in American fiction and is strongly associated with the Harlem Renaissance, the period noted for the emergence of literature by people of African-American descent. Hurston worked as a writer of fiction and of anthropological research and this mini-thesis will discuss aspects of her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, first published in 1937. While the novel traces the psychological development of the central female character, Janie Mae Crawford, and, thus, demonstrates several features of a conventional Bildungsroman, the novel also contains some intriguing innovations in respect of narration and voice. These innovations imply that the novel can be read in terms of the qualities commonly associated with the Modernist novel. This contention becomes significant when it is understood that a considerable degree of critical responses to the novel have discounted these connections.  The novel is widely accepted to be a story about a woman’s journey to self-actualisation through the relationships she has with the men in her life. Much of the criticism related to the novel is based on this aspect of it, with many stating that Janie’s voice is often silenced by the third-person narrator at crucial moments in the text and that, as a consequence, she does not achieve complete self-actualisation by the end of the novel. This thesis will examine the significance of the shifts between first-person and third-person narration and assert the argument that Hurston’s use of these shifts demonstrate her sophisticated use of devices that are prevalent in the Modernist novel and that these features of the narrative are, therefore, strengths rather than weaknesses. In addition, there are manifestations of other voices or means of articulation, which give the novel a multi-vocal quality. The importance of this innovation will also be considered, particularly when it is taken into account that Hurston sought to incorporate some elements associated with the oral tradition into her work as a writer of fiction.

Volschenk, J 3379351 (PhD)
This study examines temporal entanglement in three novels by Jamaican-born author Nalo Hopkinson. The novels are: Brown Girl in the Ring (1998), Midnight Robber (2000), and The Salt Roads (2004). Specific foci are how her use of temporality is shaped by creolization as a response to a predatory Western modernity, and how she creatively theorizes black women’s subjectivity in relation to (post)colonial politics of domination. Hopkinson’s innovative diasporic science fiction displays common preoccupations associated with Caribbean women writers, such as belonging and exile, and the continued violence enacted by the legacy of colonialism and slavery. A central emphasis of the study is an analysis of how Hopkinson not only employs a past gaze, as the majority of both Caribbean and postcolonial writing does to recover the subaltern subject, but also how she uses the future to reclaim and reconstruct a sense of selfhood and agency, specifically with regards to black women. Linked to the future is how she engages with notions of technological and social betterment and progress as exemplified by her emphasis on technology’s use as a tool of empire. By writing science fiction, Hopkinson is able to delve into the nebulous nexus of technology, empire, slavery, capitalism and modernity. And, by employing a temporality shaped by creolization, she is able to collapse discrete temporalities, tracing obscured connections between the nodes of this nexus from its beginnings on the plantation, the birthplace of creolization.

Williams, SSD 2557997 (MA CW)
Coffee and Chockers: A Collection of Short Stories will draw inspiration from memories and family anecdotes about growing up in the small Western Cape Karoo towns of Williston and Beaufort West. This collection of short stories, while inspired by the memories and oral histories of my family, will nonetheless be a wholly fictional collection of stories.
My decision to write a collection of short stories focusing upon coloured lives was conceived after reading, Shirley, Goodness and Mercy by Chris van Wyk. In this memoir the author captures his childhood growing up in a coloured community during the time of the Apartheid Regime in Johannesburg in what I feel to be an authentic manner. Van Wyk’s emphasis upon the ‘ordinary’ lived experiences of Joburg’s coloured community inspired me to consider a similar if fictional focus upon the ‘ordinary’ lived experiences of the coloured communities which I am familiar with in Williston and Beaufort West.
The stories in Coffee and Chockers will be told through the eyes of the collection’s principal narrator, the twelve year old character named Jonathan “Jonny” Klaasen, as he recounts, retrospectively, experiences and encounters in a small unnamed Karoo town. Themes examined in the collection will be varied and will include: poverty, pride, elderly neglect, shame, greed, gossip and small town community dynamics.
Although this will be a diverse collection, in which I envisage the reader encountering a range of characters and lives, certain techniques will be used to bind the collection together and offer a meta-structure. One of these will be the use of a single narrator throughout. The other will be the recurring motif of food. Food is an important indicator of both cultural and ethnic tradition as well as socio-economic status (as Leonie Joubert’s sociological study, The Hungry Season highlighted in 2013). I hope that food will play a similar role in this collection, this time with specific reference to coloured Karoo experience. The name of the collection highlights both the important symbolic role of food but also the coloured context in which the stories are told since “chockers” is a slang Afrikaans coloured word to describe the peanut butter sandwiches (often drunk with a cup of coffee) which are served in homes when money is short. 
This collection will seek to contribute to the relatively small but growing canon of contemporary coloured South African fiction and poetry currently in circulation.


Tyrone August: “Out of Place: A Re-evaluation of the Poetry of Dennis Brutus” PhD. 2015 (Dr Roger Field)

Tessa Bavasah: “Parodic Imagination and Resistant Form in Historical Fiction: A Study of Ann Harries’ Manly Pursuits” MA Full Thesis. 2007. (Professor Peter Merrington)

Prosper Birama: “Tradition and Modernity in Zakes Mda’s Heart of Redness” MA Mini-thesis. 2006. (Associate Professor Hermann Wittenberg)

Chad Brevis “Taboo Topics in Fiction: The Case of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita” MA Full Thesis. 2014 (Dr Roger Field)

Fidelis Chu: “Developing First Year Part-time Students’ Academic Competencies in an Academic Literacy Module” MA Full Thesis. 2010. (Kenneth Goodman)

Jerome Cornelius: “What Lies: A Novella” MA Creative Writing Mini-Thesis. 2015. (Dr Meg van der Merwe)

Courtney Davids: “Female Identity and Landscape in Ann Radcliffe’s Gothic Novels” MA Full Thesis, cum laude. 2010. (Associate Professor Hermann Wittenberg)

Paulene Erfort: “Introspection, female consciousness and the quiet revolution in the novels of Nawaal el Saadawi and Mariama Bâ”, MA Full Thesis. 2012. (Dr Fiona Moolla)


Mark Espin: “Representation, Affiliation and Compassion in Selected Fiction by Michael Ondaatje” MA Full Thesis. 2010. (Peter Kohler)

Mark Espin: “‘Closeness and Distance’: Modes of Representation and Forms of Narration in John Berger’s Prose Fiction” PhD, 2014 (Professor Tony Parr)

Roger Field: “Alex la Guma: A Literary and Political Biography of the South African Years” PhD, 2001 (Professors Jane Taylor and Stan Ridge)

Elizabeth Fletcher: “Crime Fiction and Narration of the Post-Apartheid” MA Mini-thesis, 2014 (Professor Duncan Brown)

Mike Hagemann: "Humour as a postcolonial strategy in Zake's Mda's novel, The Heart of Darkness” MA Full Thesis. 2010. (Professor Wendy Woodward)


Sandra Hill: “UnSettled: a collection of short stories” MA Creative Writing Mini-thesis. 2014. (Dr Meg van der Merwe)


Anthony Jacobs: “Flying in the Face of Convention: The Heart of Redness as Rehabilitative of the South African Pastoral Literary Tradition through the Frame of Universal Myth” MA Full Thesis. 2005. (Professor Peter Merrington)


Christopher Kudyahakudadirwe: “You Are Not Alone: A Novel” MA Creative Writing Mini-thesis. 2015. (Dr Meg van der Merwe) 

Chunjing Liu: “Seeking Identity between Worlds: A Study of Select Chinese American Fiction”. MA Mini-thesis. 2011. (Associate Professor Hermann Wittenberg)

Andrew Matthews: “The Story qua Story in Selected Fictional Works of J.M. Coetzee” MA Full Thesis. 2011 (Peter Kohler)

Shafieka Moos: “Rape Survivors: Bodily Experiences and Discursive Practices” MA Full Thesis. 2004. (Professor Wendy Woodward)

Kudzayi Ngara: “Imagining and Imaging the City: Ivan Vladislavić and the Postcolonial Metropolis” PhD. 2010. (Professor Wendy Woodward)

Vincent Ntaganira: “Alex La Guma's short stories in relation to A Walk in the Night : a socio-political and literary analysis” 2005 MA Full Thesis. (Dr Roger Field)


Riaan Oppelt: “The Valley Trilogy: A Reading of C. Louis Leipoldt’s English-language fiction circa 1925-1935” MA Full Thesis. 2007. (Professor Peter Merrington)


Gahlia Phillips: “With Crowns On Their Heads: A Collection of Poems” MA Creative Writing Mini-thesis. 2014. (Professor Wendy Woodward)

Jolyn Phillips: “Let's Go Home: stories and portraits” MA Creative Writing Mini-thesis. 2014. (Meg van der Merwe)

Fernando Rodrigues: "Reading Between the Lines: Exploring Identity and Embodiment in Transgender Autobiographies and Life-Stories” MA Mini-thesis, cum laude. 2014. (Associate Professor Hermann Wittenberg)

Lauren van der Rede:  “Representations of the Postcolonial African Child in Select Films about Africa” MA Full Thesis. 2014. (Associate Professor Hermann Wittenberg)

Wihan van Wyk: “The Shelleyan Monster: The Figure of Percy Shelley in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Peter Ackroyd’sThe Casebook of Victor Frankenstein” MA Full Thesis 2015. (Dr Alannah Birch)

Grant Andrews: “Representations of Fatherhood and the Paternal Identity in South African Fiction and Film” PhD (Associate Professor Hermann Wittenberg)

Hilda Andrews: “‘Visklippie’ and other Cape Town stories: A Short Story Collection” MA Creative Writing Mini-thesis. (Drs Meg van der Merwe and Fiona Moolla)

Bronwyn Douman: “The Marginal Grey: A Collection of Short Stories” MA Creative Writing Mini-thesis. (Dr Meg van der Merwe)

Mike Hagemann: “Shadows, Faces and Echoes of an African War: The Rhodesian Bush War through the Eyes of Chas Lotter – Soldier Poet” PhD (Dr Roger Field)

Kate Highman: “Plagiarism, Copyright and Cultural Ownership in South African letters” Postdoctoral (Associate Professor Hermann Wittenberg)

Kareesha Naidoo: “Between Text and Stage: The Theatrical Adaptations of J.M. Coetzee's Foe" MA Full Thesis (Associate Professor Hermann Wittenberg)

Lindsay van Rensburg: “The idea of the Hero in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice” MA Full Thesis (Ms Cheryl-Ann Michael)


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