Year of Study in Programme: First
Supervisor: Dr Felicity Hand
Area/Topic of Research: Postcolonial Literature
Title/Provisional Title of Thesis: Tarred with the nastiness of uncovered history: Interrogating Social Class in Zoë Wicomb’s Fiction
Short Abstract: This study seeks to analyze the ambiguous issue of South African class in the Apartheid and Post-Apartheid era, and its importance to the following formation of racialized and gendered behaviours. The main academic reason to analyze in depth South African society through literature arose precisely due to the lack of class analysis on its own (and not as part of a race study) in the South African literary field. Although it is true that class, race and gender tend to be studied together as inseparable categories, race and gender scholars commonly study their fields as already created categories (despite their constant changes), but seldom as derivations of an earlier existing classification.
By focusing on the South African writer Zoë Wicomb, who encapsulates both the essence and the difficulties of South African society, and taking class as the direct influence on racial and gendered formations, this study aims to analyze the issue of class deflecting in a way the former fixation with race (although not race itself) and thus determine whether the ethos of discrimination is based that much on skin colour or gender, or on socioeconomic presumptions. Furthermore, the fact that Zoë Wicomb’s fiction has not been exhaustively analyzed from this perspective benefits the originality of the topic. Nonetheless, the deciding factor for this investigation was that Wicomb’s literature has been explored mainly in terms of race – as most South African literature has been – so this study would contribute to Wicomb scholarship, adding a new perspective to her writing.