Dr. phil. Danyela Demir

Reading Loss: Post-Apartheid Melancholia in Contemporary South African Novels

Dr. Danyela Demir’s thesis focuses on six post-apartheid novels:

  • Playing in the Light (2006) by Zoe Wicomb
  • Agat (2004/2007) by Marlene van Niekerk
  • Devil’s Valley (1998) by Andre Brink
  • The Beneficiaries (2002) by Sarah Penny
  • Thirteen Cents (2000) by K Sello Duiker
  • Room 207 (2006) by Kgebetli Moele

The thesis aims at highlighting different manifestations of melancholia that are visible in these texts in particular and in post-apartheid writing more generally. Mainly based on Sigmund Freud’s, Anne Cheng’s and Paul Gilroy’s concepts of melancholia, most novels are regarded as melancholic counter-narratives to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s attempt to initate a nationwide process of mourning with the aim of subsequent closure of the apartheid past. Morever, concepts of melancholia prove particularly useful in order to analyse issues such as complicity, uncritical whiteness, crises of identity, forms of resistance, and intergenerational memory.