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Narrating an Other and Each Other: Collaborative Constructions of Selfhood in There Was This Goat : Investigating the Truth Commission Testimony of Notrose Nobomvu Konile
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Languages.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6726-9990
2018 (English)In: Life Writing, ISSN 1448-4528, E-ISSN 1751-2964, Vol. 15, no 2, p. 243-254Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this article is to examine the textual constructions of selfhood in the South African narrative There Was This Goat: Investigating the Truth Commission Testimony of Notrose Nobomvu Konile (2009), co-authored by Antjie Krog, Nosisi Mpolweni and Kopano Ratele. There Was This Goat is dedicated to understanding Mrs Konile and her Truth and Reconciliation Commission testimony given in Xhosa, a testimony which many found incomprehensible. I trace and read Mrs Konile through the lens of Judith Butler and her ideas about self-narration and through Sarah Nuttall’s concept of entanglement. These two approaches underline the social aspects of both self-narration and identity formation through narration, and therefore assist me in approaching the authors as simultaneous characters in the text, recipients of Mrs Konile’s narrative, and creators of the textually represented Mrs Konile. The authors’ dual function as writers of and characters within the narrative is an important factor which has been only briefly considered in much of the previous scholarly research on this multivoiced life writing text. This article argues that Mrs Konile is disempowered by the structure of the narrative, which positions her as a passive object of study rather than an active subject of her own life narrative.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2018. Vol. 15, no 2, p. 243-254
Keywords [en]
Notrose Nobomvu Konile, There Was This Goat, collaborative life writing, South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission
National Category
Specific Literatures
Research subject
Humanities, English literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-70072DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2017.1345292ISI: 000430639200006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-70072DiVA, id: diva2:1176673
Available from: 2018-01-23 Created: 2018-01-23 Last updated: 2018-07-11Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Black Lives, White Quotation Marks: Textual Constructions of Selfhood in South African Multivoiced Life Writing
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Black Lives, White Quotation Marks: Textual Constructions of Selfhood in South African Multivoiced Life Writing
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis focuses on South African multivoiced and collaborative life writing. The analysed primary texts are The Long Journey of Poppie Nongena (1980) by Elsa Joubert, The Calling of Katie Makanya: A Memoir of South Africa (1995) by Margaret McCord, Finding Mr Madini (1999) by Jonathan Morgan and the Great African Spiderwriters, David’s Story (2000) by Zoë Wicomb, and There Was This Goat: Investigating the Truth Commission Testimony of Notrose Nobomvu Konile (2009), co-written by Antjie Krog, Nosisi Mpolweni and Kopano Ratele. All of these primary texts are either collaborative autobiographies about black lives, multivoiced life writing texts about black lives, or a text that problematises this kind of life writing where predominantly disadvantaged, black life writing subjects either have had their lives narrated or have had their narration steered by well educated, advantaged, Westernised and usually white writers.

The analyses of the primary texts are carried out by problematising them in the light of the South African historical and cultural context within which they were produced. The focus of the analyses is on the effects on and the consequences for textual constructions of selfhood when the writers tell or include the life writing subjects’ lives in the life writing texts. The involvement of the writers in the life writing projects is argued to greatly have impacted the textually represented selves that were created in the resulting multivoiced life writing texts.

Drawing on theory rooted in postcolonial studies, life writing in general, and self-narration in particular, this thesis concludes that the examined black South African life narratives to various extents are told on white, Western terms and thus inserted in white quotation marks. White quotation marks are defined in this thesis as a certain Western perception of self-narration and selfhood, consisting of components rooted in language, racial tropes, narrative form, and Western autobiographical traditions. Both writers and life writing subjects have been involved in creating or employing these white quotation marks. In some cases this has been an unintentional result and in other cases it has been a conscious effort.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Växjö: Linnaeus University Press, 2018
Series
Linnaeus University Dissertations ; 314/2018
Keywords
Antjie Krog, collaborative autobiography, collaborative life writing, Elsa Joubert, Jonathan Morgan, Kopano Ratele, Margaret McCord, multivoiced life writing, Nosisi Mpolweni, selfhood, South Africa, Zoë Wicomb
National Category
General Literature Studies Specific Languages
Research subject
Humanities, English literature
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-71410 (URN)978-91-88761-43-9 (ISBN)978-91-88761-44-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-04-06, Homeros, 351 95 Växjö, Växjö, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-03-08 Created: 2018-03-06 Last updated: 2018-03-13Bibliographically approved

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