Restless collection: Ivan Vladislavić and South African literary culture

Reid, Katie (2017) Restless collection: Ivan Vladislavić and South African literary culture. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis explores Ivan Vladislavić’s negotiation of the call for a specifically South African ‘signatured authorship’ as his body of work travels its literary marketplaces. Identifying an accretive logic and a curatorial mode through a series of his prose-fictions, it seeks to contribute to emergent discussions about Vladislavić’s increasing visibility on the world-literary stage and the difficulties of positioning his canny reflexive texts on its terms. Between print-cultural and textualist approaches, the thesis registers the imprint in Vladislavić’s oeuvre of other roles and institutional spaces he has occupied in South African literary culture – as an editor, a parallel career begun with oppositional publishers Ravan Press in 1984, and in his longstanding engagement with the visual arts and urban studies – to investigate the ways that Vladislavić’s authorial position simultaneously evokes and displaces white, Anglo-South African literary authority. My readings, focused on acts of collecting, collector figures and collections of ‘small’ locally produced texts, thus range between the neglected pre-lives of stories collected by Vladislavić’s first book, to the multiple textual surfaces and self-references embedded across his most recent novel. Engaging the critical figure of ‘gathering’ and its crossings in the discursive institutions of literature and the archive, I open a number of interrelated concerns with writing South Africa from a site of cultural privilege, and with them, Vladislavić’s subtle and complex handling of attendant questions, of assembly, custodianship, and proprietorial relations. Tracing Vladislavić’s ‘gatherings’ and their variously accreted ‘worlds’, I argue that they are reciprocally resistant to market strategies of accommodation whilst enacting a performative and aesthetic openness to the world. My thesis therefore demonstrates a paradoxical relationship of Vladislavić’s work to unified literary spaces, the often vexed (post)national and global literary-critical categorisations, and his emergence as a South African ‘world writer’.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR9080 English literature outside of Great Britain. Including present and former British colonies and dependencies except the United States > PR9340 Africa > PR9354.2 South Africa. History. General works
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2017 15:22
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:48

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