Aesthetics and resistance: aspects of Mongane Wally Serote's poetry.

Frielick, Frielick Stanley
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The literature produced by writers who align themselves with national liberation and resistance movements presents a serious challenge to dominant standards of literary . aesthetics. Resistance writing aims to break down the assumed division between art and politics. and in this view literature becomes an arena of conflict and struggle. This dissertation examines certain aspects of the poetry of Mongane Wally Serote in order to explore the relationship between aesthetics and resistance in his writing. Over the last two decades, Serote has made a significant contribution to the development of South African literature, and his work has important implications for literary criticism in South Africa. Chapter 1 looks at some of these implications by discussing the concept of resistance literature and the main issues arising from the debates and polemics surrounding the work of Serote and other black political writers. Perhaps the most important here is the need to construct a critical approach to South African resistance literature that can come to terms with both its aesthetic qualities and political effects. This kind of approach would in some way attempt to integrate the seemingly incompatible critical practices of idealism and materialism. Accordingly, Chapter 2 is a materialist approach to aspects of Serote's early poetry. The critical model used is a simplified version of the interpretive schema set out by Fredric Jameson in The Political Unconscious. This model enables a discussion of the poetry in relation to ideology, and also suggests ways of examining the discursive strategies and symbolic processes in this particular phase of Serote's development. Serote's later work is 'characterised by the attempt to create a unifying mythology of resistance. Chapter 3 thus looks at Serote's long poems from an idealist perspective that is based on the principles of myth-criticism, As this is a complex area, this chapter merely sketches the main features of Serote' s use of myth as a form of resistance, and then suggests further avenues of exploration along these lines. The dissertation concludes by pointing towards some of the implications of recent political developments in South Africa for Serote and other resistance writers.
A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Arts, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in fulfilment of the criteria for the c[egree of Master of Arts
Serote, Mongane Wally, 1944-, Poetry -- Black authors., South African poetry (English) -- Black authors., Protest poetry, South African (English)