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Shakespeare and South Africa$
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David Johnson

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198183150

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198183150.001.0001

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Shakespeare and Apartheid: The 1950s

Shakespeare and Apartheid: The 1950s

(p.147) 5 Shakespeare and Apartheid: The 1950s
Shakespeare and South Africa

David Johnson

Oxford University Press

This chapter extends the dialectical mode of thinking to the opposition of apartheid and William Shakespeare in 1950s South Africa, arguing that here too those mediating the relation between these opposed extremes – South African English teachers – confer upon themselves a centralising power. The mediation is effected differently in different areas, and the chapter focuses on three: the criticism of Geoffrey Durrant, D. R. C. Marsh, and Christina van Heyningen; the syllabuses, school editions for Shakespeare study; and book reviews and literary criticism in the anti-apartheid political journals of the period. The chapter deflects the discussion towards a more detailed consideration of the cultural mission of English studies in contemporary South Africa: in particular, it questions the basis of Shakespeare's credentials as a resource in the struggle against racism.

Keywords:   apartheid, William Shakespeare, South Africa, Geoffrey Durrant, Christina van Heyningen, literary criticism, cultural mission, English studies, racism

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