NTC: The Languages of the Foreign: J.M. Coetzee's "Waiting for the Barbarians"

Friday, January 27, 2012

9:30 am - 12:30 pm

Room 101

Programs for Teachers
Newberry Teachers' Consortium

This seminar will examine the relationship between the many intangible nuances of foreignness and the quite literal and material designation of foreignness, with the demarcations that designate who belongs in a place and who doesn’t, with the segregation of ethnicities, nationalities or “races.” Through a reading of J. M. Coetzee’s compelling novel, /Waiting for the Barbarians/, seminar participants will examine how language powerfully affects the construction of foreigners. The novel, a tale of threatening foreign “barbarians” and the edges of an unspecified Empire, is structured as an allegory–a kind of language in which a text’s literal meaning is foreign to its figural meaning. We will explore the way in which the “foreignness” of Coetzee’s allegorical language bear on the construction and fear of foreign barbarians, both when the novel is read as an abstract parable and when it is read in the context of apartheid South Africa.

Seminar led by Rebecca Saunders, Illinois State University

Newberry Teachers’ Consortium is a subscription program open to Chicago-area teachers.