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Down Second Avenue lecture seriesCritical Lives:Auto/biography and life writing in South AfricaEs’kia Mphahlele,Down Second Avenue(1959).oNarrative journalism, witness, reportage, oral historyoCritical, political, reflective essayoAuto / biography|Political ‘lives’|‘National allegory’oThe archive of critical non-fiction from 20c South AfricaEs’kia Mphahlele (1919 – 2008)oBorn Pretoria > Maupaneng (Limpopo) > MarabastadoAdams College, Natal 1940: Teachers Certificateo1941-5: Teacher of the blind, Ezenzeleni Institute, Roodepoorto1945-52: Orlando High School. Banned from teaching.oDrum magazine, Johannesburgo1957: MA thesis (UNISA). Leaves SA for Nigeriao1961: Paris: Congress of Cultural Freedomo1963-66: Nairobio1966-68: Denver: PhD thesis (Creative Writing)o1968-70: Lusakao1974-77: University of Pennsylvaniao1977: Return to South Africa / ‘Lebowa’ / Inspector of schools: controversy andprotest.oWits University until 1987.In Es’kia Mphahlele we have arguably the most sustained record in SA literature of theencounter between a South African writer and the cultures of the wider Africandiaspora.Over a twenty year period, between 1957 and 1977, he engaged with each of the majorcentres of intellectual ferment in the black world, in West and East Africa, with exiledfrancophone Africa, the Caribbean and the United States.David Attwell,Rewriting Modernity.These SA writers are fashioning an urban literature on terms that are unacceptable to thewhite ruling class. They are detribalized or Coloured (of mixed blood), not accepted as anintegral part of the country’s culture (a culture in a chaotic state). But, like every other non-white, they keep on, digging their feet into an urban culture of their own making. This is afugitive culture: borrowing here, incorporating there, retaining this, rejecting that. But it is avirile culture. The clamour of it is going to keep beating on the walls surrounding the alreadyfragmented culture of the whites until they crumble.Mphahlele,The African Image, 192.Mphahlele as publisher and ‘entrepreneur of African literature’
Themes of the lectures:1. Life-writing and (political) ‘lives’ in South AfricaNational allegory: ‘lives’ mediating the liberation StruggleRepresenting the relation between the individual and the collective‘African humanism’Theories of autobigraphy: the writing ‘I’.How is this life ‘plotted’?
4. ‘The literary compromise’‘Writing as self-expression and objective reporting of the social scene’‘historians of feeling’‘inner compulsion to create and the pressure to enter social action’How does

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Term
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The Bible, Drum, Autobiographical novel, Ezekiel Mphahlele

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