Tanaka Chidora (PhD) is a lecturer in the Department of English, University of Zimbabwe. He teaches Theories of Literature; Popular Culture and Literature; Zimbabwean Literature; and African Literature. His research interests include popular music, postcolonial literature and meta-criticism. He is also an editorial assistant for a feminist journal, Feminist Encounters.
University of Zimbabwe Dept. of English
Cell: +263 773551391
This paper is more of a panoptic exploration of the history of literary criticism in Zimbabwe, especially its turning points and major highlights. The paper closely relates literary criticism in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe to the historical trajectory that characterized and continues to characterise these time-spaces. For instance, the paper argues that the separate canonization that was to characterise the Manichean groupings of literary texts in Zimbabwe was given impetus by the Rhodesian Literature Bureau which was set up in order to encourage and control literary production by black writers. Such a treatment of black writers as ‘other’ writers set the stage for a decades long separatist approach to writing in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe so that the first critical volume that appeared in 1981 (Those Years of Drought and Hunger by Musaemura Zimunya) treated Zimbabwean Literature as literary texts produced by black people. Thus, the history of colonialism, independence and its attendant euphorias, post-independence violence, and the post-2000 crisis engendered particular modes of writing and particular modes of reading. The history of literary criticism in Zimbabwe cannot, therefore, be separated from the history and narration of the nation. The movement from cultural nationalism to postcoloniality, or the pluralistic and fluid approach to Zimbabwean writing that characterise contemporary, post-2000 reading of literary texts from Rhodesia and Zimbabwe finds relevant historical verification in the birthing of the nation, disillusionment with the nation that was birthed, and the consequent search for the nation or other modalities of action outside its limiting borders. Therein lie there turning points.
Keywords: Zimbabwe, Rhodesia, literature, criticism, history