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n Literator : Journal of Literary Criticism, Comparative Linguistics and Literary Studies - Gender-based genre conventions and the critical reception of Buchi Emecheta's Destination Biafra (Nigeria) : original research

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Abstract

A gendered spatial schema of war - which creates a dichotomy between a masculine battlefront and a feminine home-front - undermines the credibility of women's participation in battle, impacting on the legitimacy of women's war novels. Through a study of Buchi Emecheta's Destination Biafra, first published in 1982, this article highlights the role of genre conventions in the production and reception of war novels written by African women. Emecheta makes a daring choice to reconceptualise the home and/or battlefront dichotomy. By manipulating the representational genre convention of soldier-hero she subverts its archetypal masculinity. Debbie, the female soldier-hero, is the focal point of this analysis. Within the context of postcolonial African literature, women's writing is portrayed as a process of 'writing back' to a canon that represents women as apolitical conduits of tradition. In Debbie, Emecheta foregoes canonical markers of African 'authenticity' to create a liminal figure that negotiates her identity between modernity and tradition; masculinity and femininity. The article concludes that the principal reason why the characterisation of Debbie is deemed dissatisfying is that it defies the facile categorisation offered by the adherence to the gendered representational conventions. Too often genre is considered a fixed category yet a meaningful analysis of Destination Biafra forces one to consider it as an open category whose conventions can be 'bent' to accommodate minority literatures spawning new sub-genres.


'n Geslagsgebaseerde ruimtelike konsepsie van oorlog - wat 'n verdeling skep tussen die manlike oorlogsfront en 'n vroulike tuisfront - ondermyn die geloofwaardigheid van vroue se deelname aan die stryd en die legitimiteit van vroueoorlogromans. Deur 'n studie van Buchi Emecheta se Destination Biafra, eers gepubliseer in 1982 te doen, beklemtoon hierdie artikel die rol van genrekonvensies tydens die produksie en ontvangs van oorlogromans geskryf deur Afrika vroueskrywers. Emecheta se gewaagde keuse om die tuis- en/of oorlogsfrontverdeling te ondermyn deur die skepping van 'n vroulike soldaat-heldin, Debbie, is die fokuspunt van hierdie analise. Binne die konteks van post-koloniale Afrika letterkunde word die werke deur vroue uitgebeeld as 'n proses van die 'terug skryf' aan 'n kanon wat vroue uitbeeld as apolitiese geleiers van tradisie. Emecheta doen afstand van kanonikale merkers van Afrika-'egtheid' met die karakter van Debbie, 'n liminale figuur wat haar identiteit moet vind te midde van moderniteit en tradisie; manlikheid en vroulikheid. Die artikel kom tot die slotsom dat die hoofrede waarom die karakterisering van Debbie as onbevredigend geag word, is omdat dit die simplistiese kategorisering van genre konvensies uitdaag. Té dikwels word genre as 'n vaste kategorie beskou, maar 'n betekenisvolle ontleding van Destination Biafra dwing die leser om dit as 'n oop kategorie te beskou, waarvan die konvensies 'gebuig' kan word om minderheidsletterkunde te akkommodeer wat nuwe sub-genres ontwikkel.

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/content/literat/35/1/EJC153759
2014-01-01
2016-12-08
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