The End of Unheard Narrative. Contemporary Perspectives on Southern African Literatures

Collection is united by attempt to lift the veil from unheard narratives by moving them from the margin to the centre of discussion
Weiss, Bettina (ed.)
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Editor: Bettina Weiss
kalliope paperbacks
Heidelberg, 2004
ISBN: 978-3-00-014514-8
Softcover, 15x21 cm, 261 pages


This study focuses on contemporary literatures of the southern African region and brings together the work of scholars who cover pressing questions about the constructions of Othering, about locked-away-narratives - stories which are regarded as anathema to society or narratives about the female teras or the twisted 'reality' of the construction of the family, the nation, or history.

Their work comprises aspects of the implementation of strategic devices which are used to justify and reinforce these constructions, but it also elaborates the strategies which hold the potential to subvert and destabilise rigid conceptions.

The study reflects on issues such as the diverse modes of portraying HIV/AIDS in literatures of South Africa and Zimbabwe; it examines the socio-(homo)sexual experiences of Black Men in South Africa; it traces the traumatic transitions in Namibia from the war to its aftermath, read through the prism of gender; it proposes homoerotic readings of Black women's desires; and it demonstrates how 'speaking' textiles function as a recurrent image for the contradictions inherent in the postcolonial voice and how they offer new structures to tackle silence.

This collection is united by the contributors' attempts to lift the veil from unheard narratives by moving them from the margin to the centre of discussion. The essays vividly demonstrate that the end of unheard narratives, as the title of this book reads, holds a double-sided implication.

The Editor:

Bettina Weiss received her PhD in the field of gender and body discourse in African women's writing of Southern Africa at the Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany.

The Contributors:

Lizzy Attree, Katrin Berndt, Dorothy Driver, Bevelyn Dube, Jessica Hemmings, Robert Muponde, Agnes Muriungi, Tom Odhiambo, Margie Orford, Charles Pfukwa, Meg Samuelson, Annemarié van Niekerk and Bettina Weiss.


Notes on the Contributors
An Introduction to The End of Unheard Narratives

Part I - Of 'Abject' Bodies and Their Narrative Potential
A Leaking of Categories: Rachael Woman of the Night
Annemarie van Niekerk
Re-Imagining the Prostitute in Society: A Critique of the Male
Writer's Perspective in Zimbabwean Literature
Bevelyn Dube
Reshaping Communities: The Representation of HIV/AIDS in
Literature from South Africa and Zimbabwe
Lizzy Attree

Part II - Voicing Tough Facts and Gentle Suggestions
Socio-Sexual Experiences of Black South African Men in K Sello
Duiker's Thirteen Cents and The Quiet Violence of Dreams
Tom Odhiambo
"The Eyes of a Buck": Figuring the Child in the Zimbabwean Short
Story in English
Robert Muponde
An Approach to Homoerotic Female Desire in 'Three Moments in a
Marriage," The Purple Violet of Oshaantu, and A Question of Power
Bettina Weiss

Part III - Renegotiating and Restoring Identities
Eloquent Silence as a Mode of Identity Construction in Chenjerai
Hove's Novel Bones
Katrin Berndt
Transition, Trauma, and Triumph: Contemporary Namibian
Women's Literature
Margie Orford
History's Intimate Invasions: Yvonne Vera's The Stone Virgins
Dorothy Driver & Meg Samuelson

Part IV - The Past as a Mediator for the Present
Sit Down and Listen: The Invention of (Oral) Tradition and the
Imagining of a New Nation
Agnes Muriungi
"How All Life Is Lived, in Patches": Quilting Metaphors in the
Fiction of Yvonne Vera
Jessica Hemmings
The Imagery and Potential Power of Mbira and Kwela Rhythms in
Yvonne Vera's Without a Name and Butterfly Burning
Charles Pfukwa

Notes on the Contributors:

Lizzy Attree is currently studying for a PhD at SOAS in London on 'The representation of HIV and AIDS in literature from Zimbabwe and South Africa." Her most recent publication "Language, Kwela Music and Modernity in Butterfly Burning" is featured in Sign and Taboo: Perspectives on the Poetic Fiction of Yvonne Vera (2002). She helped to organise the literary tours 'African Visions' for the Africa Centre in 2002 and 2003. This year she toured writers for both SABDET and the Africa Centre.

Katrin Berndt lectures postcolonial English literatures at the Department for English Studies at the University of Leipzig, Germany. She has completed her PhD on "Female Identity Construction in Contemporary Anglophone Zimbabwean Literature" at the University of Bayreuth and has made various publications on African literatures, postcolonial writings, popular music, and feminism. She is currently working on a project that examines the aesthetics of friendship in postmodern women's writing.

Dorothy Driver is professor of English at the University of Cape Town, and holds an adjunct professorship at the University of Adelaide. She has edited books on and by Pauline Smith and Nadine Gordimer, and has published essays on numerous Southern African women writers and on various aspects of gender in the Southern African context. She recently co-edited Women Writing Africa: The Southern Region (2003). She and Meg Samuelson are co-authoring a book on Southern African writing.

Bevelyn Dube is currently working on a PhD proposal on the construction of childhood in children's literature in the 20th century and is a lecturer at the University of Venda in South Africa. Previously, she was lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Zimbabwe and taught at Gweru Teacher's College and Hillside
Teacher's College as a teacher trainer. Her special interest is in promoting the critical study of children's literature in Zimbabwe.

Jessica Hemmings is a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh where she is writing her dissertation on the role of textiles in the fiction of Zimbabwean author Yvonne Vera. She holds a BFA (Honours) in Textile Design from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MA (Distinction) in Comparative Literature (Africa/Asia) from the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. She teaches in the Liberal Arts Department of the Rhode Island School of Design and writes for numerous magazines including FiberArts, The Surface Design Journal, Crafts Arts International, and Selvedge.

Robert Muponde is a researcher at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. His research explores concepts of childhood/children, politics of nationhood, and history in Zimbabwean literature. His publications include Children s Literature (2000); No More Plastic Balls: New Voices in the Zimbabwean Short Story (2000), co-edited with Clement Chihota; and Sign and Taboo: Perspectives on the Poetic Fiction of Yvonne Vera (2002), co-edited with Mandi Taruvinga. His forthcoming book, co-edited with Ranka Primorac, is entitled Versions of Zimbabwe: Literature, History, Politics.

Agnes Muriungi is a doctoral candidate at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. Her doctorate thesis is on HIV/AIDS fiction in Kenya entitled "Romance, Love and Gender in Times of Crisis: HIV/AIDS in Kenyan Popular Fiction." A chapter of her thesis has been published in English Studies in Africa under the title 'The 'Total/Real Man and the 'Proper' Woman: Safe Sex, Risk and Gender in Meja Mwangi's The Last Plague" (2002).

Tom Odhiambo is based at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, where he is a researcher at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research. He has an MA in African Literature from the University of the Witwatersrand. His research interests include African
literature and African popular culture. At present, he is researching on African popular fiction with a special focus on Kenya for his PhD.

Margie Orford is a Namibian writer and an intermittent academic and film maker. She has directed films for young children and writes fiction for children. She has co-authored several textbooks for Namibian and South African schools. She has contributed chapters to scholarly books and is a co-editor of an anthology of contemporary Namibian women's writing titled Coming On Strong. Writing by Namibian Women (1996). She also co-edited Women Writing Africa: The Southern Region (2003), an extensive work of historical and cultural retrieval. She was a Fulbright Scholar to the United States from 1999 - 2001 and is in the process of writing her doctoral dissertation on narratives of history in Namibia's oral and written literatures. Last year she wrote a book on the impact of climate change on sustainable development in the South. Currently she is writing a book on rural development and change in South Africa in the last two decades. She writes regularly for South African magazines on social and feminist issues. She is now resident in Cape Town where she lives with her husband and her three daughters.

Charles Pfukwa is a lecturer in Communication Studies and is Acting Chairman at the Department of Languages and Media Studies at the Zimbabwe Open University in Harare. He is currently registered D.Litt et Phil student with UNISA, South Africa, and is writing a thesis on "The Significance of noms de guerre in Zimbabwe's Liberation War." He has published on Zimbabwean literature and multimedia communication and has written short stories for Horizon and the Zimbabwean Review. His research interest lies in literature on the Zimbabwean Liberation War and popular culture in the Third World.

Meg Samuelson holds an MA from the University of Leeds and is a doctoral candidate and A.W. Mellon fellow at the University of Cape Town. Her dissertation deals with post-apartheid fiction and culture. She recently co-edited Nobody Ever Said AIDS: Stories and Poems from Southern Africa (2004), and has published essays, in journals and books, on the representations of rape in South African literature of the transition, on South African fiction and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and on writers such as Joseph Conrad, Sindiwe Magona, Mamphela Ramphele, and Yvonne Vera. She and Dorothy Driver are co-authoring a book on Southern African writing.

Annemarie van Niekerk has been involved in South African literature as lecturer at the University of Transkei and Vista University, South Africa, and as editor at Kwela Books in Cape Town. She is the compiler and editor of an Afrikaans collection of women's short stories published under the title Vrouevertellers: 1843-1993 (1994) and two English collections, entitled Raising the Blinds: A Century of South African Women's Stories (1990) and The Torn Veil and Other Women's Short Stories From the Continent of Africa (1998). She has done extensive research on South African literature, with special focus on women's literature. She is now living in The Hague, Netherlands.

Bettina Weiss lived in Windhoek, Namibia, for many years - a place where she, as she calls it, "has left behind a piece of her soul." She has completed her PhD on gender and body discourse in African women's writing entitled "Tangible Voice-Throwing: Empowering Corporeal Discourses in African Women's Writing of Southern Africa" at the Humboldt University of Berlin. She has lectured Afrikaans at the University of Leipzig and now works as a freelance journalist in Heidelberg, Germany. She also writes for LiteraturNachrichten, a quarterly magazine dealing with Latin American, African, and Asian literatures. She has set up her own publishing company, kalliope paperbacks. The essay collection on hand is her first work as an editor.

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