Ceaselessly Calling into Question All Origins: The Death and Life of the Author in South African Oral Poetics Open Access

Barrow, Meredith Paige (2016)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/1n79h443h?locale=en


This Master's thesis demonstrates an approach by which the theory of Barthes' "The Death of the Author" sheds light on notions of oral authorship and allows for the genre's placement within mainstream textual inquiry. Though both written and oral modes of authorship function quite similarly, the physical presence of the author in oral texts alters the author-audience relationship from the one-sided, lifeless conception of Barthes' to a more interactive, hermeneutic interchange. Chapter 1 focuses on the theme of authorial positioning through the conceptions of the "humanized" and "individualized" authors, of which Barthes' authors are typically the latter while oral authors are often the former. Chapter 2 concerns textual origins through historical trajectory as well as the textual recipient's role in propagating such texts. Chapter 3 discusses multi-dimensionality in regard to the role of contemporary South African poetics within this historical, and global, trajectory. Chapter 4 probes various disseminative modes, such as live performance, YouTube, and radio in relation to audience receptivity. Poets examined include: Lesego Rampolokeng, Ingoapele Madingoane, and Afurakan, among others.

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1

Chapter 1: The Author. 13

1.1 Locating and Expanding Barthes' Conception of the Author. 13

1.2 South African Poets' Allignment with and Refutation of Barthes' Conception. 15

1.2.I Authorial Association. 17

1.2.II Intransitive Relations with Reality. 25

1.3 Conclusion. 28

Chapter 2: The Concept of Origin. 29

2.1 Indigenous Origins of Orality. 30

2.1.I The /Xam People. 31

2.1.II The Xhosa and Zulu Peoples. 32

2.1.III The Zulu Movement Towards Christianity. 41

2.2 Poetic Developments of the Apartheid Era. 44

2.2.I Implications of Apartheid Poetry. 52

2.3 Barthes' Origins. 54

2.4 Conclusion. 57

Chapter 3: Multi-Dimensionality. 58

3.1 Contemporary South African Poetry. 58

3.2 Analyzing the Poetic Trajectory Through Barthes' Lens. 74

3.3 Conclusion. 79

Chapter 4: Audience Receptivity. 81

4.1 Live Performances. 83

4.2 YouTube. 91

4.3 Podcasts and Radio. 98

Conclusion. 103

Works Cited. 108

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