Complex urban identities : an investigation into the everyday lived realities of cities as reflected in selected postmodern texts

Snyman, Adalet (2010-03)

Thesis (MA (English))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The concept of the city has evolved over time with generations of city dwellers. The rapid advance of technology has promoted globalisation, which has brought about increased familiarity with diverse cultures, but has also exposed issues of marginalisation among communities in cities. In order to approach a more comprehensive understanding of the complexity of the “open” postmodern view of the city it is essential to consider the relevant literature that grapples with issues of human identity and appropriation in the city. This dissertation examines narrative perspectives in the literary works of four postmodern writers: Jonathan Safran Foer, Neil Gaiman, China Miéville, and Lauren Beukes. References to underlying philosophical viewpoints, various perceptions, both “real” and fictional, were incorporated in the discussion. Close attention is paid to the correlation between the novel and the city, and to what extent the city itself can be viewed as a narrative – since, within a postmodern approach, fictional narratives may form discourses that represent, and in a fashion constitute, the city, while subjects at the same time form themselves in terms of their environment. Fiction becomes an invaluable tool for exploring the cityscape and commenting on contemporary issues. In conclusion, the urbanised human subject may be said to play a vital role in establishing the concept of the city, both in “real” culture and in fictional narrative. The representation of the contemporary South African urban milieu in the discussed literature serves to confirm the relevance of local as well as global influences. To justify multiple perspectives on the city consequently means to grant each individual viewpoint validity.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die konsep van die stad het deur die jare ontwikkel saam met geslagte van stadsbewoners. Die vinnige vooruitgang van tegnologie het globalisasie bevorder, wat op sy beurt weer bewustheid van diverse kulture bevorder het, maar ook kwessies blootgelê het rondom marginalisasie in stadsgemeenskappe. Ten einde ‘n meer omvattende begrip van die kompleksiteit van die “oop” postmoderne perspektief op die stad daar te stel, is dit belangrik om te kyk na die relevante literatuur wat bemoeienis maak met kwessies van menslike identiteit en eienaarskap in die stad. Hierdie dissertasie het gekyk na vertellerperspektiewe in die literêre werke van vier postmoderne skrywers: Jonathan Safran Foer, Neil Gaiman, China Miéville, en Lauren Beukes. Met verwysing na onderliggende filosofiese gesigspunte is verskeie persepsies, gegrond op die werklikheid sowel as fiktief, in die bespreking ingesluit. Daar is aandag gegee aan die verband tussen die roman en die stad, en in watter mate die stad self as ‘n teks beskou kan word, aangesien die teks volgens ‘n postmoderne aanslag die stad kan “representeer” en “laat ontstaan”, terwyl menslike subjekte hulself terselfdertyd vorm in terme van hul omgewing. Fiksie word dus ‘n waardevolle werktuig vir waarneming van en kommentaar lewer op komtemporêre sake. Ten slotte kan gesê word dat die verstedelikte menslike subjek ‘n belangrike rol speel in die bevestiging van die stad as konsep, beide in reële kultuur en in fiktiewe vertelling. Die verteenwoordiging van die kontemporêre Suid-Afrikaanse stedelike milieu in die bespreekte tekste bevestig die relevansie van lokale sowel as internasionale invloede. Om veelvuldige perspektiewe op die stad gelyk te beregtig beteken gevolglik dat elke individuele gesigspunt geldig is.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/4144
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