Law and South African Literature (abstracts due January 25; papers due March 31)

full name / name of organization: 
Patrick Lenta/ University of Kwazulu-Natal
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Current Writing 21(2) (October 2010)

Special Issue on ‘Law and South African Literature’ (guest-edited by Patrick Lenta)

An established field of interdisciplinary study, ‘law and literature’ has received little attention from critics working on South African literature. This is unfortunate in view of the entanglement of literature and the law in South Africa. Representations of law are frequent in South African writing: legislation, adjudication and law-enforcement feature in the works of Brink, Coetzee, Fugard, Gordimer, Modisane, Paton, Wicomb and others, yet work within the subfield of ‘law and literature’ commonly called ‘law in literature’ has been uncommon.

Colonial and apartheid law often figures in South African literature as the principal technology of colonial power; post-apartheid literature, responding to South Africa’s transition to a constitutional democracy, explores ways in which the relationship between law and violence, and law and justice, has changed. Post-apartheid law, for example, has been depicted as less violent and unjust than apartheid law, but also as less capable of responding to and providing redress for crime.

Insufficient attention has been paid to the ways in which literary production and publication have been regulated by law. Under apartheid, regulation in part took the form of censorship as government moved to interdict works that challenged or resisted the apartheid state. What was the effect of the suppression of literary works by the state? How does post-apartheid law regulate literary production?

Article submissions (in English) are invited for a special issue devoted to exploring ‘law and South African literature’. Possible themes include, but are not limited to:

• Adjudication and sentencing
• Crime, violence and disorder in the postcolony
• In/security and law-enforcement
• Law and subject de/formation
• Globalisation, neoliberalism and human rights
• Law and empire
• Law and censorship
• Law and the state of emergency

Please notify Patrick Lenta, the guest editor of this issue, of your interest in contributing an article, by submitting a 200-word abstract and brief biographical note to by 25 January 2010. The deadline for completed essays is 31 March 2010.

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