Jennifer Buczynski (42) was presented with the annual Ford Premier Award by Wallace Yearwood, Plant Manager of the Ford Struandale Engine Plant, at the NMMU’s awards banquet for the 2011 academic year.
Buczynski received the Ford prize for the best Master’s Degree by Dissertation: Social Sciences and Humanities, for her thesis titled “An analysis of the fictional representations of trauma in Elias Canetti’s ‘Auto-Da-Fe’”.
“I would like to thank Ford Motor Company for taking an interest in the academic achievements at NMMU,” Buczynski states. “This award is an acknowledgement of my hard work and my contribution to a valuable field of research, and is an encouragement to continue the pursuit of excellence.”
Her dissertation explores how trauma theory can elucidate Elias Canetti’s Nobel Prize winning and most disturbing novel, Auto-da-Fé. “An analysis of Auto-da-Fé, in the light of trauma, reveals an enigmatic testimony not only to the nature of violent events, but to the way trauma resists simple comprehension,” Buczynski says.
“To a certain extent, South Africa’s impasse with development and moving forward hinges on the difficulty of putting the trauma of our past to rest. I believe that my study of literary representations of violence on individuals and society offers valuable insight into understanding the nature of trauma and the consequences of not coming to terms with the past.”
She argues that there is a desperate need for trauma of individuals and communities to be constructively addressed so that South Africa can develop into a functional democracy where violence is contained and people and communities thrive in a safe society.
“I am convinced that my study may contribute to this process by telling the stories of traumatic experience, a method embraced by well-known South Africans such as Desmond Tutu and Mampela Ramphele, which could create some common ground for acting in new ways that are more inclusive and less violent.”
Although Buczynski currently teaches English at Pearson High School in Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth, she intends on extending this field of study for her doctorate.
The Commonwealth Commission has acknowledged the value of Buczynski’s study, and has offered her a Commonwealth Split-Site Scholarship. This entitles her to continue the research at Swansea University in Wales for one year, thus enabling her to complete her PhD.
“The annual Premier Award enables Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa to honour noteworthy achievers at the NMMU, and we’re proud to be associated with Jennifer and her meaningful research,” comments Wallace Yearwood.
“It builds on our long-standing partnership with the NMMU, which also now includes the specialised Ford Engine Research Unit that was officially launched at the beginning of June.”