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REWRITING MODERNITY (article first published : 2005-08-14)

Publication connects the black literary archive in South Africa to the twenty-first century.

Recently launched by University of KwaZulu-Natal Press and Adams & Ike’s Booksellers is Rewriting Modernity: studies in black South African literary history by David Attwell (Wits Univ).

Rewriting Modernity connects the black literary archive in South Africa – from the nineteenth-century writing of Tiyo Soga to Zakes Mda in the twenty-first century – to international postcolonial studies via the theory of transculturation, a position adapted from the Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz.

David Attwell provides a welcome complication of the usually linear black literary history (literature as a reflection of the process of political emancipation) that is so often presented. He focuses on cultural transactions in a series of key moments and argues that black writers in South Africa have used print culture to map themselves onto modernity as contemporary subjects, to negotiate, counteract, reinvent and recast their positioning within colonialism, apartheid and in the context of democracy.

Contents include The Journal of Tiyo Soga; Time & Narrative: Writing at the mission; Modernising tradition: the Dhlomo-Vilakazi dispute; Fugitive Pieces: Es’kia Mphahlele in the diaspora; Lyric & epic: the ideology of form in Soweto poetry, and The Experimental Turn: Experimentalism in contemporary fiction.

David Attwell has taught at the University of the Western Cape and held Chairs of English at the Universities of Natal and Wits. In 2006, he moves to a Chair of Modern Literature in the Dept of English, University of York.

His previous publications include Doubling the Point, a volume of essays and interviews with J.M.Coetzee (Harvard Univ Press) and J.M.Coetzee: South Africa and the Politics of Writing (Univ of California Press).

More information from Cedric Sissing on 031 260 2885 or 261 2320 or e-mail: cedric@adamsbooks.co.za or Joanne Rushby on 031 303 9214.




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