This is a study of South African literature through the prism of narratives of sexual violence. While most incidents of sexual assault in South Africa are t interracial, narratives of interracial rape have dominated the national imaginary. South African literature has again and again circled back to images of black peril (representations of the rape of white women by black men) and white peril representations that show the rape of colonised women by colonising men. Taking an historical and comparative perspective, the book uses as theoretical underpinning Michel Foucault's ideas on sexuality and biopolitics and Judith Butler's speculations on race and cultural melancholia. Avoiding a simplistic feminist perspective, the book examines the complex ways in which race, gender and class work together in the literary texts under examination. Where relevant, it examines the production, dissemination and reception of the selected texts. The books argues for an ethically responsible and dialectical approach that recognises high levels of sexual violence in South Africa, but also examines the racialised inferences and assumptions implicit in representations of bodily violation.
Lucy Valerie Graham is a lecturer in English at Stellenbosch University.