Winner of the 2001 CELJ Award for the Best Special Issue
This special issue of Poetics Today explores the development of a South African literary identity in the face of its staggering cultural, historical, and linguistic diversity. The collection uses the idea of the "global imaginary" to explore the ways the outside world has constructed ideas about South African literature as well as the way South Africans themselves have fashioned their literary selfhood. Articles address the legacy of colonialism and apartheid and wrestle with the fact that in spite of the fact that there are eleven official languages in South Africa and that many of the cultures have historically relied on an oral tradition, the dominant works continue to be those that are written down, in English. As de Kock writes in his introduction, the collection "raises a multiplicity of questions about the colonization of culture." There has been a "trope of binary pairing," he writes, between white and black, civilized and backward, home and exile, colonizer and colonized, which obscures the richness and complexity of the South African literary tradition. This collection promises to at least begin to correct that oversimplification.
Contributors: Louise Bethlehem, Jonathan Crewe, Dirk Klopper, Leon de Kock, Loren Kruger, Sonja Laden, Simon Lewis, Peter Merrington, Patricia Watson Shariff, Pippa Skotnes