Embodiment in the poetry of Gabeba Baderoon
Nortjé, Elizabeth Louise
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This dissertation examines the relation between embodiment and language, knowledge and memory, as explored in the poetry of South African poet Gabeba Baderoon. In her three published collections of poetry, namely, The Museum of Ordinary Life, The Dream in the Next Body and A Hundred Silences, she depicts seemingly trivial and everyday events or experiences with acute attention to detail, all of which are connected by her unique portrayal of their embodied nature. In doing so, her work illustrates that intellectual activities typically associated with the mind, such as language, knowledge and memory, in fact require the incorporation of the body. Therefore, this dissertation studies the mind-body relation represented in her work with regard to these thematic concerns, since it is a crucial aspect of her poetry and aids not only in understanding and interpreting her work, but also the discourse on embodiment in general. These concerns do, moreover, not remain on a thematic level, but are evident in her poetry itself; that is, her poems too act as a form of embodiment. Furthermore, Baderoon’s poems are able to transcend the supposed mind-body dichotomy in a way that shows much in common with phenomenology, and especially the perspective held by authors such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty. This dissertation incorporates phenomenological ideas on the body and embodiment, as these assist in interpreting Baderoon’s work, as well as for the reason that her poetry sheds new light upon the understanding of such phenomenological ideas, too. Thus, this dissertation seeks to elucidate the manner in which Gabeba Baderoon’s poetry transcends the mind-body dichotomy by means of her exceptional employment of the notion of embodiment on a thematic as well as formal level.
- Humanities