Stranger in your midst : a study of South African women's poetry in English.
This thesis represents the first extended study of South African poetry in English from a gender perspective. It is conceived in two parts: firstly, a deconstructive analysis of the dominant tradition of South African English poetry in order to reveal its masculine or androcentric base; and secondly, the reconstruction of an alternative gynocentric tradition that gives primacy to women and the feminine in poetry. The first section consists of an examination of the ways in which the feminine has been. excluded from the poetic tradition in historical terms by means of social and economic constraints on women. The study begins with a brief reference to the beginnings of cultural gender discrimination in British poetry, from which South African English poetry derives, and then moves to a more extended consideration of the ways in which this discrimination has manifested itself in the South African context in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This is followed by an analysis of the "poetics of exclusion", the ways in which the tradition genders itself as masculine by defining its central speaking position or subjectivity as male and masculine, and so excludes women and the feminine. The second section commences with the reconstruction or recovery of a gynocentric tradition of women's poetry in English in South Africa by means of a gynocritical "map" or survey, followed by a discussion of the nature of the feminine discourse or "poetics" required to provide the critical context for this poetry. The preliminary "map" is given greater detail by in-depth discussion of the women poets considered to be major contributors to the gynocentric tradition: Mary Morison Webster, Elisabeth Eybers, Tania van Zyl, Adele Naude, Ruth Miller, Ingrid Jonker and Eva Bezwoda. The study ends with an examination of the work of contemporary women poets in South Africa, especially the black women poets of the 1970s and '80s, and the poets - both black women and white women - who wrote from exile in the 1980s.