Real and Imagined Readers: Censorship, Publishing and Reading Under Apartheid

Real and Imagined Readers: Censorship, Publishing and Reading Under Apartheid

Real and Imagined Readers looks at an important period in South African literary history, marked by apartheid censorship and the extensive banning of intellectual and creative voices. Returning to the archive, this book offers a reader-centric view of the successive censorship laws, and the consequences of publication control on the world of books. Books and print culture created intersectional spaces of solidarity where ideas and knowledge were contested, mediated and translated into the socio-political domain.

Detailed Information

  • Title: Real and Imagined Readers: Censorship, Publishing and Reading Under Apartheid
  • Author: Rachel Matteau Matsha
  • Publisher: University of Kwa-Zulu Natal Press
  • Country of Origin: South Africa
  • Publication Year: 2018
  • ISBN: 9781869144029
  • Bib. Info: Paperback; 250pp

Real and Imagined Readers looks at an important period in South African literary history, marked by apartheid censorship and the extensive banning of intellectual and creative voices. Returning to the archive, this book offers a reader-centric view of the successive censorship laws, and the consequences of publication control on the world of books. Books and print culture created intersectional spaces of solidarity where ideas and knowledge were contested, mediated and translated into the socio-political domain.

By focusing on these marginalised readers, Matteau Matsha sheds light on the reading cultures and practices that developed in the shadow of apartheid censorship, creating alternative literary spaces. Real readers engaged in an elusive dialogue with the censors’ imagined readers, and definitions of literature and readerships emerged from this unusual connection, leading to the formation of literary conventions that inform reading politics to this day. By understanding reading as a complex and dynamic activity, this book stresses the importance of appreciating books in relation to the social context in which they are written and, most importantly, read.

‘This is a fascinating account of the dynamics in the publishing industry of that time. It is a salutary reminder of what has gone before and what should not be lost in the muddle of the turmoil in the political sphere today.’ — Christine Stilwell, emeritus professor, UKZN and former acting director of the Centre for African Literary Studies in Pietermaritzburg

Rachel Matteau Matsha is a senior lecturer in the Department of Media, Language and Communication at the Durban University of Technology of Media, Language and Communication at the Durban University of Technology. She holds a PhD and MA in African Literature from the University of the Witwatersrand, and a BA in Literary Studies from the Université du Québec à Montréal.

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