"I Can Feel My Grin Turn to a Grimace": From the Sophiatown Shebeens to the Streets of Soweto on the pages of Drum, The Classic, New Classic, and Staffrider




Keaney, Matthew P

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This thesis uses a comparative framework of historical analysis to investigate four South African literary magazines printed between 1951 and 1983. Drum, The Classic, New Classic, and Staffrider function as platforms for the exhibition of writing that depicted the authors‘ interpretations of the ―black experience‖ in South Africa. In the process, these writers probed controversial race relations, contradictions of ―nation‖ and ―community,‖ and rival strategies of protest and negotiation. These four magazines formed a distinct literary lineage of quotidian narratives and trope characters, yet the variations within this lineage reveal how these writers responded to the social and political exigencies of life under apartheid in South Africa. On the pages of these magazines writers publicly debated their place within a racially stratified society, and fictional characters negotiated a world remarkably similar to that of their creators. Through analysis of divisions within black liberation movements, the emergence of Black Consciousness, and the assertion of youth power in the Soweto Uprising of 1976, this thesis seeks to demonstrate that under apartheid, there were no clearly defined spheres of politics or art. Consequently, in their quest for relevancy, many of these writers found themselves producing politicized fiction as they articulated the frustrations and aspirations of their readers. In doing so, literary artists, political activists, and fictional characters revealed a common desire for the comforts of community while simultaneously contesting the criteria for membership.



Black Consciousness, South Africa Literature and Politics, Nat Nakasa, Black Community Programmers (BCP), South African Popular Culture, The Soweto Uprising, 1976