TRANSGRESSION AND BEYOND: DAMBUDZO MARECHERA AND ZIMBABWEAN LITERATURE
MetadataShow full item record
Recent criticism has claimed Marechera's unconventionality represents an anomaly in Zimbabwean literature. Problematically, this implies a fundamental separation of the author from the concerns, styles and strategies of other writers. In this thesis I argue, on the contrary, that Marechera demonstrates a propensity for dialogue with other Zimbabwean writers. Moreover, such a dialogue is crucial to the development of a critical discourse capable of addressing elements of contradiction. Returning Marechera to the heart of debate in Zimbabwean literature, the thesis focuses on the meaning of his transgressions, alongside selected texts by other Zimbabwean authors. These include Doris Lessing, Charles Mungoshi, Shimmer Chinodya, Yvonne Vera, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nevanji Madanhire, Chenjerai Hove, and Stanley Nyamfukudza. I also consider the relevance of lesser-known women's writing and queer narratives, and Marechera's meaning to anti-racist, feminist, and gay liberation initiatives. As a background to my analysis, I ascertain discursive links in an historical sequence of sexual regulation. I argue that the 'black peril' panics in settler society (fear of interracial sex), the rounding-up of single women deemed to be prostitutes in the 1980s, and the anti-gay campaigns of the mid-1990s are all underpinned by a moral discourse which continuously reproduces an ideology of racial, social and sexual hygiene. Marechera's writing refuses this ideology, I claim, but his transgressions are rarely straightforward and frequently misunderstood. His treatment of interracial sexuality deeply problematises conventional concepts and representations of racial identity: his controversial characterisations of women subvert traditional patriarchalist iconographies of womanhood; and his treatment of queer issues (unprecedented in Zimbabwean literature) destabilises assumptions of heteronormativity. Despite such radicalism, however, Marechera's writing, moving beyond transgression. remains notoriously inconsistent and therefore resistant, I argue, to assimilation by progressive political projects. Although Marechera complicates debates, dialogue with the author is crucial, I nevertheless maintain, precisely for this reason.
AuthorsShaw, Drew Campbell
- Theses