Approaches to Teaching Coetzee’s Disgrace and Other Works

  • Editors: Laura Wright, Jane Poyner, Elleke Boehmer
  • Pages: xii & 248 pp.
  • Published: 2013
  • ISBN: 9781603291385 (Cloth)
  • ISBN: 9781603291392 (Paperback)

“The sheer range of critical and pedagogical approaches canvased is little short of astonishing, and the ingenuity and effort that these teachers of Coetzee put into preparing their courses should be a source of real inspiration to their readers.”

—Gareth Cornwell, Rhodes University, South Africa

The novels of the South African writer J. M. Coetzee won him global recognition and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2003. His work offers substantial pedagogical richness and challenges. Coetzee treats such themes as race, aging, gender, animal rights, power, violence, colonial history and accountability, the silent or silenced other, sympathy, and forgiveness in an allusive and detached prose that avoids obvious answers or easy ethical reassurance.

Part 1 of this volume, “Materials,” identifies secondary materials, including multimedia and Internet resources, that will help instructors guide their students through the contextual and formal complexities of Coetzee’s fiction. In part 2, “Approaches,” essays discuss how to teach works that are sometimes suspicious of teachers and teaching. The essays aim to help instructors negotiate Coetzee’s ironies and allegories in his treatment of human relationships in a changing South Africa and of the shifting connections between human beings and the biosphere.

David Attwell
Rita Barnard
Michael Bell
Louise Bethlehem
Carrol Clarkson
Stephen Clingman
Emily S. Davis
Gerald Gaylard
Johan Geertsema
Martina Ghosh-Schellhorn
Erik Grayson
Patrick Hayes
Kay Heath
Keith Leslie Johnson
Patricia Merivale
Shannon Payne
Robert Spencer
Andrew van der Vlies
Pieter Vermeulen
Wendy Woodward

Acknowledgments (ix)

PART ONE: MATERIALS

Jane Poyner

Contexts and Criticism (4)

Disgrace (4)

Other Works (6)

Form (9)

Intertextuality (10)

Further Resources (10)

Historical Background to South Africa (10)

Biographical Resources (12)

Supplemental Student Reading (12)

Multimedia, Internet, and Other Resources (15)

PART TWO: APPROACHES

Introduction: Teaching with/out Authority (19)

Laura Wright

On Difficulty

Prologue: Why Not to Teach Coetzee (31)

Rita Barnard

What Does It Mean to Teach The Lives of Animals or Disgrace? (43)

Michael Bell

Intellectual Contexts

Horizons Not Only of Expectation: Lessons from In the Heart of the Country (49)

Martina Ghosh-Schellhorn

Teaching Coetzee’s Subject: Waiting for the Barbarians and Disgrace (59)

Stephen Clingman

Coetzee’s Other Other: An Existential Approach to Teaching Disgrace (67)

Erik Grayson

Reading Coetzee’s Worldliness (73)

Johan Geertsema

Teaching the Critique of Romanticism and Empire in Disgrace (80)

Pieter Vermeulen

Historical and Cultural Contexts

Teaching Coetzee, Then and Now (87)

David Attwell

“[From] Whom This Writing Then?” Politics, Aesthetics, and the Personal in Coetzee’s Age of Iron (96)

Andrew van der Vlies

Refusing Adamastor: Lucy Lurie and “White Writing” in Disgrace (105)

Louise Bethlehem

Countering Context: Teaching Disgrace in the New South Africa (112)

Gerald Gaylard

Teaching Coetzee and Australia (117)

Elleke Boehmer

Teaching Coetzee’s American Contexts; or, How I Teach America—and Africa—in Cullowhee, North Carolina (123)

Laura Wright

Ethics and Representation

Teaching Disgrace at the University of Cape Town (131)

Carrol Clarkson

Pedagogies of Discomfort: Teaching Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals (139)

Wendy Woodward

Open to Interpretation: Politics and Allegory in Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians (146)

Robert Spencer

Who’s Appropriating Whose Voice in Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K? (152)

Patricia Merivale

Biopolitical Coetzee; or, “The Will to Be Against” (160)

Keith Leslie Johnson

Classroom Contexts

Reconciling Whiteness: Disgrace as Postcolonial Text at a Historically Black University (167)

Kay Heath

Teaching Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals in the First-Year Composition Classroom (174)

Shannon Payne

Teaching Coetzee’s Foe in an Undergraduate Theory Classroom (180)

Emily S. Davis

Coetzee and Close Reading (187)

Patrick Hayes

Notes on Contributors (195)

Survey Respondents (199)

Works Cited (201)

Index (223)