Original Research

‘I was a Girl of my Time’: A feminist literary analysis of representations of time and gender in selected contemporary South African fiction by women

Jessica Murray
Literator | Vol 38, No 1 | a1328 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v38i1.1328 | © 2017 Jessica Murray | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 August 2016 | Published: 30 August 2017

About the author(s)

Jessica Murray, Department of English Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa


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Abstract

This article offers a feminist literary analysis of selected contemporary South African texts by women writers in order to explore how they represent female characters’ engagement with conventional understandings of time and its chronological and linear progression. These engagements are represented as being particularly fraught for women characters as they find themselves constrained by various temporally located constructions of femininity even as they attempt to heed the temporally dislocated voices of gendered trauma that consistently speak through their bodies. In this article, my focus will be on Bridget Pitt’s novel, Notes from the Lost Property Department (2015), Elleke Boehmer’s The Shouting in the Dark (2015) and Mohale Mashigo’s The Yearning (2016). Despite frequent references to the importance of temporality in making sense of the experiences of the female protagonists, there has been a dearth of scholarly attention to the complexities of the intersections between gender, time and trauma in contemporary South African fiction by women. While gender violence and trauma are topics that have received extensive critical scrutiny in South African literary studies, this article demonstrates that the inclusion of temporality in the analytical framework enables a richer and more nuanced reading of the experiences of the female characters in the selected texts.

Keywords

gender; time; trauma; South African women’s writing

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