"South Africa and Nigeria in Postcolonial Discourse" with Dr. Emilija Lipovsek and Dr. Stevan Bradic

Course description:

J. M. Coetzee (1940) is arguably one of the most important contemporary South African novelists. Even with only five of the thirteen novels being set in South Africa, they all, to certain extent, address themes pertinent to the (post)colonial and apartheid situations: relations of power, colonial discourse, the other, racial segregation, the position of women, class relations, violence, South African liberalism and revolutionary activism, the relationship of South Africa’s peoples to the land and, not least, the politics of writing. His fiction is located “in the nexus of history and text”, and “explore[s] the tension between these polarities” (Attwell, 2-3), seeing the “South African situation [today] as only one manifestation of a wider historical situation to do with colonialism, late colonialism, neo colonialism” (Coetzee qtd. in Attwell, 14). Starting from his early masterpiece Waiting for the Barbarians (1980), moving to his puzzling work of ‘situational metafiction’ Foe (1986), and finishing with post-apartheid narrative of Disgrace (1999), this course will address the aforementioned issues, in an attempt to relate their political and poetic questions. 

The second part of the seminar will discuss how postcolonial women writers depict Nigeria in their writings. The focus will be given to the novel-in-verse Lara by Bernardine Evaristo and memoir Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay through analysis of the heroines of mixed parentage and the relevance of their visits to Lagos and Abuja for the first time to renegotiate their British-Nigerian identity. The novels A Bit of Difference by Sefi Atta and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, on the other hand, portray Nigerian-born female characters as returnees willing to settle down after a long period of studying and working abroad. It will be argued how all the protagonists eventually find themselves in the liminal space between the wish to belong to Nigeria and elsewhere.