Bodylands : inscriptions of the body and embodiment in the novels of Lauren Beukes. Key terms : South African literature, inscriptions of the body and space, gender, abjection, the disciplined body, the grotesque and classical body.
This dissertation takes up the question of the body and embodiment(s) in contemporary South African fiction, paying particular attention to the novels of award-wining author, Lauren Beukes. In the first three fictional works published to date, namely Moxyland (2008), Zoo City (2010) and The Shining Girls (2013), the body emerges as a persistent focus of narrative interest and attention. My aim in this dissertation is to explore how these fictional bodies are imagined and constructed; to ask what kinds of bodies predominate in Beukes’s texts and to consider their thematic, narrative, aesthetic and political significance. Taking my cue from contemporary cultural theory (the work of Foucault, Bakhtin and Scarry), and various studies in feminist theory (such as Gatens, Grosz and Butler), I hope to bring renewed attention to the body and its inscriptions within discourse by offering a reading of the body in Beukes’s first three fictional works: Moxyland (2008), Zoo City (2010) and The Shining Girls (2013). By extending the existing critical literature on the body, as well as these novels, I aim to provide a reading of the body in these texts in terms of the following themes: the disciplined body, the body in pain, the gendered body, the body in relation to power and the vulnerable body.