Discourses of transnational feminism in Marie du Toit’s Vrou en feminist (1921)

Keywords: cultural mobility, first-wave feminism, heteroglossia, hybridity, intertextuality, Marie du Toit, transtextuality


In this article I investigate transtextuality in Vrou en feminist (Woman and Feminist, 1921) by Marie du Toit in order to demonstrate how she grafted first-wave transnational feminism onto the Afrikaans context. Du Toit’s book is approached as a space of contact between progressive European and North American thought and a South African, particularly Afrikaner, mindset. Du Toit relied on a multiplicity of late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries discourses to support her argument that Afrikaner women become part of the feminist movement. Due to the numerous quotations from scientific papers and literary fiction, mostly English but also Dutch, her book can be described as a heteroglot text. Utilizing the histoire croisée approach, I discuss Du Toit’s text on the macro and micro scale: I locate it in a historical perspective as a literary document and focus on the ways in which diverse voices intersect and converse with one another. I argue that the book was an unsuccessful attempt at inviting the Afrikaans reader into a transnational imagined community of suffragettes because of prejudice against the English language and culture. English sources, which Du Toit extensively quoted, deterred potential Afrikaans supporters, and consequently prevented transfer of feminist thought. Even though she also supported her views with some texts in Dutch in wanting to appeal to her reader’s associations with a more familiar Dutch culture, this tactic was insufficient to tip the balance.

Author Biography

Malgorzata Drwal, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań

Małgorzata Drwal is assistant professor at the Department of Dutch and South African Studies, Faculty of English, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland.


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