Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Textual Studies

Committee Chair

Lorinda Cohoon

Committee Member

Charles Hall

Committee Member

Reginald Martin

Committee Member

Verner Mitchell


Rugby in South Africa has long been an important facet of white, male, and Afrikaner culture. Scholars concur that the sport has been profoundly associated with Afrikaner nationalism and power, and with the violences of the apartheid state. As a corollary, rugby has also been related to and influenced by constructions of apartheid hegemonic masculinity. This study examines representations of rugby in selected texts. Identifying a trope, it argues that in these works, rugby is used as a metonym to relate (in the sense of both "to narrate" and "to connect") other forms of violence in South African society. These include racism, homophobia, detention, torture, censorship, and xenophobia. John Carlin's book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation and the film Invictus, directed by Clint Eastwood, kick off discussion in this study. Four novels, Alan Paton's Too Late, the Phalarope; Damon Galgut's The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs; Mark Behr's Embrace; J. M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians, and Neill Blomkamp's film District 9 constitute the project's core. Several poems and Behr's short stories "Boy" and "Esprit de Corps" supplement discussion. The study's theoretical underpinnings include Marxism, postcolonialism, masculinity and queer theory, and sport sociology and history. The project is undergirded by the violence studies theory tendered by Peace Studies scholar Johan Galtung. He argues that there are three kinds of violence: direct (somatic) violence, structural, and cultural. These work together to facilitate exploitation, a defining feature of a violent structure. This is the first sustained study of representations of rugby in South African texts. Its foundation in literary texts offers an unusual way to examine how violence functions in society. The project exposes the ways in which sport is implicated in popular culture and represented in literature as such. This dissertation would interest scholars of literature, African and South African studies, history, anthropology, psychology, sociology, gender studies, sports studies, international studies and political science, postcolonial studies, and popular culture.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.