Author Date

2020-06-12

Degree Name

BA

Department

English

College

Humanities

Defense Date

2020-06-10

Publication Date

2020-06-14

First Faculty Advisor

Peter Leman

Second Faculty Advisor

Robert Colson III

Honors Coordinator

John Talbot

Keywords

South Africa, Sovereignty, Animals, Nonhuman, Power, Literature, Zakes Mda, J.M. Coetzee, Lauren Beukes, Jacques Derrida, South African Literature, the Supernatural, Colonial Era, Apartheid Era, Post-Apartheid, The Heart of Redness, Zoo City, Disgrace

Abstract

This thesis uses the theoretical backbone of Jacques Derrida’s The Beast and the Sovereign to look at the theme of the nonhuman in connection with sovereignty in three novels representing three major time periods in South Africa. Zakes Mda’s The Heart of Redness uses the nonhuman in the form of the supernatural to reveal the limits of sovereignty in Colonial South Africa. J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace makes use of the nonhuman in the form of animals to talk about the transient nature of sovereignty in post-Apartheid South Africa. Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City is set in an alternate future South Africa and combines the nonhuman forms of both the supernatural and the animal to address the historical impact of sovereignty. Out of a collective study of the nonhuman and sovereignty across all three novels one common theme emerges: the theme of hope. Hope that by learning from the past the future of each novel’s particular normative worlds may be in better stead.

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