Andrew Matthews

DSI-NRF Early Career Doctoral Fellow

My name is Andrew Matthews and I am registered currently for a PhD in the English Department at the University of the Western Cape. In my thesis I shall consider the concept of memory in the short fiction of Zoë Wicomb, in particular, how memory is experienced or encountered. I shall argue that memory is constituted through the act of writing itself, and that through the material process of writing various concerns related to memory are represented. The study will foreground memory through questions of temporality, self-other relations, the figure of the exile, and community. In the thesis I shall argue that memory achieves articulation better in the short story than in her other form, the novel. In order fully to explore this idea, the thesis will look at the origins, development, content and form of the short story both internationally and in South Africa. As such this study will attempt to analyse the prevalent themes of the short story as a mode of writing, as well as the structure and form of the short story as a genre. In this respect, the study will, firstly, track the genealogical development of the short story from its beginnings in Europe (especially England) and America in the nineteenth century and more importantly how and why it has come to figure so prominently in the South African literary context. It will, secondly, consider how and why the short story has been largely neglected as a focused field of critical inquiry and how it opens up possibilities for a rich dialogue or engagement with the social and political conditions of the contemporary South African situation. The microscope under which Zoë Wicomb’s fiction will be placed will allow an especially interesting point of entry into these wider debates. Thus, the central concern of the proposed thesis will be the ways in which the form of the short story better narratives the significance of memory in Wicomb’s oeuvre, and how Wicomb’s approach compares with other South African literary responses to similar que