Catherine Rudolph

Catherine Rudolph is a part-time writer and educator at the University of Cape Town. She recently completed her Masters in Creative Writing. She struggles to define her work as ‘fiction’, it being so deeply rooted in her own experience.

FORTRESS is the story of a girl growing up in a suburban neighbourhood under imagined threat.

To find out a little more about their work, we asked Catherine the following questions…

What inspires your work?

The space I’m in and the experiences I have. South Africa is a beautiful but fraught space. It’s impossible not to see the way apartheid has structured everything.

The protest movements that have happened in the past five years—Rhodes Must Fall protests in 2015, Fees Must Fall in 2017, and the protests against Gender Based Violence in 2019 – were significant for me. These provided examples of public mobilization around issues that were specific to our context, but also echoed broader systemic issues.

The protests informed and resonated with ideas that I find important: decolonizing education, grappling with inequality and implications of class, what it is to inhabit a body – a female body, a white body – and who is most vulnerable (in one of the most dangerous countries in the world). Basically asking what race, class, and gender mean, for me, for others.

(Though I do believe the framework has to be fluid/dynamic, because identity categories can also be a bit of a reductive trap).

These are really difficult questions, and I’m terrified of putting something out there that is insensitive or ‘wrong’. But then I get caught in a loop because by worrying about that, I’m making myself (and my whiteness) the center again.

There’s also an inevitability in that as a position: as a white author you can universalize your experience, which ignores race, but if you write about whiteness, then you are centering it…

Then writing and reading themselves are also reproductions of class.

Tell us a bit about your writing process.

I usually have an intense experience and then write about it. The first part goes very quickly and fluidly, and then I never want to go back to it. Editing is my worst.