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Grounds of EngagementApartheid-Era African American and South African Writing$
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Stéphane Robolin

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039478

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039478.001.0001

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Constructive Engagements

Constructive Engagements

(p.141) Chapter 5 Constructive Engagements
Grounds of Engagement

Stéphane Robolin

University of Illinois Press

This chapter considers the outcomes of some interactions among black South African and African American writers discussed in preceding chapters, but “updated” here in the context of the 1980s. It explores how earlier transnational engagements led to a series of subsequent texts and interpersonal relationships as the global antiapartheid movement began to reach its apex. Those works—by Richard Rive, Michelle Cliff, Audre Lorde, and Gwendolyn Brooks—attest to the impress of earlier writers (Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Keorapetse Kgositsile, and Bessie Head) and, by returning us to the matter of cultural influence, point to the considerable role South Africa and its writers played in shaping African American writerly imaginations. Furthermore, it is argued that Cliff's poem “Constructive Engagement” plays with the name of the Reagan-era U.S. foreign policy toward South Africa to powerful effect.

Keywords:   black South Africans, South African writers, African American writers, transnational engagements, antiapartheid, cultural influence, Richard Rive, Michelle Cliff, Audre Lorde, Gwendolyn Brooks

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