Seminar: Affiliations in the work of Afrikaans poet S.V. Petersen

Posted on May 24, 2011

With particular reference to a number of protest poems, the seminar focuses on an enduring tension in the poetry of S.V. Petersen, namely his relationship with his "countrymen with the paler skin, source of many tormented reflections". Initially, the seminar will deal with aspects of linguistic affiliation, followed by issues that pertain to formal aspects of Petersen's poetry. Finally, affiliation as a theme in his poetry will be discussed. The work of Bakhtin provides the theoretical basis of the seminar and is supplemented by relevant reconstructive comments on the social environment that gave rise to the poetry. The seminar interrogates the apparent self-evidence of Petersen's decision to write his poetry in Afrikaans, as the prevailing social and political circumstances in the 1940's did not favour such a choice. This is followed by a discussion of linguistic register as a symbolic act and the development of affiliation in Petersen's poetry over a period of forty years. Encouragement from lecturers and fellow-writers, a sympathetic publisher, Petersen's Afrikaans youth and, quite possibly, his conservative political views prompted his choice of language, whereas his poetic view of affiliation developed from alienation, reproach and disillusionment to optimism in his older and more mature years.

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