Confession, embodiment and ethics in the poetry of Antjie Krog and Joan Metelerkamp

Weyer, Christine Louise (2013-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis examines the work of two contemporary South African poets, Antjie Krog and Joan Metelerkamp. Through an analytical-discursive engagement with their work, it explores the relationship between confession and embodiment, drawing attention to the ethical potential located at the confluence of these theories and modes. The theory informing this thesis is drawn from three broad fields: that of feminism, embodiment studies and ethical philosophy. More specifically, foundational insights will come from the work of Simone de Beauvoir, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Emmanuel Levinas. While much of the theory used originates from Western Europe and North America, this will be mediated by sensitivity towards Krog and Metelerkamp’s South African location, as is fitting for a study focused on embodied confession and the ethical treatment of the other. The first chapter will establish Krog and Metelerkamp as confessional poets and explore the ethical implications of this designation. It will also explore the contextual grounds for the establishment for a confessional culture in both the United States of America of the 1950s that gave rise to the school of confessional poets, and in South Africa of the 1990s. The second chapter will use embodiment theory to discuss the relationship between poetry and the body in their work, and the ethics of this relationship. The remaining chapters concentrate on three forms of embodiment that frequently inhabit their poetry: the maternal body, the erotic body and the ageing body. Throughout the analyses of their poetic depictions of, and engagements with, these bodies, the ethical potential of these confessional engagements will be investigated. Through the argument presented in this thesis, Metelerkamp’s status as a minor South African poet will be re-evaluated, as will that of Krog’s undervalued English translations of her acclaimed Afrikaans poetry. The importance of confessional poetry and poetry of the body, often pejorative classifications, will also be asserted. Ultimately, through drawing the connections between confession, embodiment and ethics in poetry, this thesis will re-evaluate the way poetry is read, when it is read, and propose alternative reading strategies.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis ondersoek die werk van twee kontemporêre Suid-Afrikaanse digters, Antjie Krog en Joan Metelerkamp. Analities-beredeneerde benadering tot hulle werk verken die verband tussen belydenis en beliggaming. Klem word gelê op die etiese implikasies waar hierdie teorieë en vorme bymekaarkom. Die teorie waarop hierdie tesis berus, word vanuit drie breë velde geput: feminisme, beliggamingsteorie en etiese filosofie. Daar word meer spesifiek op die fundamentele beskouings van Simone de Beauvoir, Maurice Merleau-Ponty en Emmanuel Levinas gesteun. Alhoewel die teorie grotendeels ontstaan het in Wes-Europa en Noord-Amerika, sal dit met begrip benader word ten opsigte van Krog en Metelerkamp se Suid-Afrikaanse agtergrond, wat meer gepas is vir studie wat fokus op beliggaamde belydenis en die etiese hantering van die ander. Die eerste hoofstuk vestig Krog en Metelerkamp as belydenisdigters en verken die etiese implikasies van hierdie benaming. Die kontekstuele beweegredes vir die vestiging van belydeniskultuur word ook ondersoek, in beide die Verenigde State van Amerika van die 1950s (wat geboorte geskenk het aan die era van belydenisdigters) en in Suid-Afrika van die 1990s. Die tweede hoofstuk rus op beliggamingsteorie om die verband tussen poësie en liggaam in hul werk te bespreek, asook die etiese implikasies binne hierdie verband. Die oorblywende hoofstukke fokus op drie vorme van die liggaam wat dikwels in hulle digkuns neerslag vind: die moederlike lyf, die erotiese lyf en die verouderende lyf. Die etiese implikasies van hierdie belydende betrokkenheid word deurgaans in ag geneem in die analise van hulle digterlike uitbeelding van en omgang tot hierdie liggame. Die argument in hierdie tesis herevalueer Metelerkamp se status as meer geringe Suid-Afrikaanse digter asook Krog se onderskatte Engelse vertalings van haar bekroonde Afrikaanse gedigte. Die waarde van belydenispoësie en gedigte oor die liggaam, dikwels pejoratiewe klassifikasies, sal ook verdedig word. Deur belydenis, beliggaming en etiek in digkuns met mekaar te verbind, herevalueer hierdie tesis uiteindelik die manier waarop gedigte gelees word, wanneer dit gelees word, en stel alternatiewe leesstrategieë voor.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/80362
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