week, on 7 October 2021, Zanzibar-born novelist and Emeritus Professor of
English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent, Abdulrazak Gurnah
was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Alongside the official Nobel
recognition for Professor Gurnah’s body of work as an “uncompromising and
compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fates of the
refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents”, many around the world are
celebrating and reflecting on Professor Gurnah’s achievement. Novelist Maaza Mengiste adds that, for three
decades, Professor Gurnah has been “writing with a quiet and unwavering
conviction about those relegated to the forgotten corners of history.”
Professor Gurnah’s achievement is received with great excitement by the Department. Our connection to both the author and his work dates back to 2008, when Professor Tina Steiner first taught undergraduate and postgraduate classes on his novels, and over the years other colleagues in the Department have also presented on Gurnah’s texts.
visited the Department a number of times, in addition to his residency at the Stellenbosch
Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS). In April 2010, he gave the keynote
address at the Zoë Wicombe conference, the first of
two illustrious, major international conferences hosted by Stellenbosch at
which Gurnah would partake. The second such occasion was in July 2016 at the Conference
for the Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (ACLALS).
In 2018, Gurnah joined STIAS as a research fellow and ran a reading group for
English postgraduates, affording students and colleagues a rare opportunity to
get to know an author whose work is an important fixture in the department’s
undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. For some Honours students, having read
Gurnah’s By The Sea in their final
undergraduate year, it was the chance to meet an author some of them had recently
become familiar with, and the experience may not have been any less exciting
for colleagues who had taught or written about his work.
Gurnah, the storyteller, probes the efficacy of stories to connect people and geographies. Yet at the same time he is acutely attentive to the divisive nature of stories of certainty: of colonial domination, of patriarchal scripts, of racism, of xenophobia towards strangers from elsewhere. His work points to the way in which such certainties furnish people with a belief in the rightness of the violence they wreak on others, in the destruction of other people’s lives which they deem to matter less than their own.
In the same
piece, Steiner discusses the empathy that is evident in Gurnah’s prose across
his ten novels and also within his short stories. She observes that the
settings of his novels, almost exclusively African (more precisely, settings
along the Eastern African Swahili Coast or in Zanzibar) but for one exception, illuminate
the “common occurrences” of migration and displacement faced by many in Africa
and across the globe. With intermingling along the East African shores of the
Indian Ocean, Gurnah’s characters often suggest “the cultural and linguistic
heterogeneity of East African coastal regions and their place within the
continent, the Indian Ocean world, and the globe in order to stress a common
Professor Steiner’s points, we may note that Gurnah’s work is so pivotal to the
Department’s vision that he has, indeed, been recognized in our mission
statement since the early 2010s:
We envisage the discipline as a series of transformative encounters between worlds and texts, a process of reading, thinking, debate and writing which is well-placed to contribute not only to our students’ critical and creative knowledge of ‘English’ as a discipline, but also to the possibilities for change in Stellenbosch, a site still marked by racial and economic disparity… novels by Chimamanda Adichie and Abdulrazak Gurnah, poetry from the Caribbean, and articles by Njabulo S. Ndebele can prompt revised recognitions of racial, cultural and gendered identities…
Finally, another observation in Professor Steiner’s piece, one that is also found in views expressed by other avid Gurnah readers like Mengiste, is Gurnah’s great sense of care for his characters, ensuring that they are documented through literature even as his other work strives towards more immediate forms of recognition for those often left unarchived. The ability to weave humour into his narratives, despite some of their harrowing aspects, is one of the many reasons Gurnah’s work remains both enjoyable as well immanently teachable. Steiner’s piece acknowledges “the subtle humour which suffuses his writing that give his stories a lightness of touch”, a skill no doubt familiar to readers and, now, to the Nobel Committee for Literature.
The Department warmly congratulates Dr. Wesley Macheso on the successful examination of his PhD thesis entitled, “Vulnerability and Agency: Queer Representations in Contemporary Literary and Cultural Texts from Sub-Saharan Africa”. Dr. Macheso’s study, supervised by Professor Shaun Viljoen and Dr. Tilla Slabbert, was met with unanimous praise by its examiners in September 2021.
The Department will present its annual Postgraduate Conference on Thursday, 16 September. Postgraduates from the Honours, Masters and PhD cohorts will present on their work and the day’s proceedings will also include a research seminar discussion by Dr Ranka Primorac. The summary of the conference programme is below.
Session 1: Chair, Prof.
10:00-10:20 The Posthuman Imperative in Dystopian and Post-
Presenter: Andre Kershaw
Discussant: Megan Jones
10:20-10:50 Mental Distress and Diasporic Experience in Porochista
Khakpour’s Sick: A Memoir and Brown Album: Essays on
Exile and Identity
Presenter: Stephanie de Villiers
Discussant: Nhlanhla Dube
10:50-11:10 On words and sounds: Intergenerational Trauma and
Identity in Selected Shoah and Apartheid Memoirs
Presenter: Lara Alhadeff
Discussant: Lobke Minter
11:10-11:30 A Dream in which Silence is Golden
Presenter: Sarah Uheida
Discussant: Tilla Slabbert
12:00-13:00 Keynote: Dr Ranka Primorac
Session 2: Chair, Prof. Louise Green
14:30-14:50 Depictions of Victorian Masculinity in Jane Eyre and
North and South
Presenter: Josephine Troost
Discussant: Treesa Marshall
14:50-15:20 Between the Lines: Writing With, Against and Beyond
A creative reimagining of archives built over years of interviews, Home Is Where The Music Is is the latest output from Dr Uhuru Phalafala in 2021. In the listening experience is a blend of music and interviews through which Dr Phalafala presents a sonic documentary that is a companion piece to a booklet that is published by Chimurenga, which was launched on 2nd September https://chimurengachronic.co.za/home-is-where-the-music-is-2/
Africa still in the grip of a third wave of the Covid 19 pandemic and under national
lockdown, the Department of English continues to operate online under current
national guidelines and protocols. A lengthy, extended first semester, impacted
in June by the onset of the third wave and the ensuing Lockdown Level 4, saw
all assessments and tests occur online. With little break for faculties across Stellenbosch
University and at other universities across the country, the second semester is
in full swing.
Through the intense teaching and administrative activity of the first semester, the Department’s research activities endured, as will be seen in this report. The Department’s fortnightly research seminar series, curated and arranged by Dr Uhuru Phalafala, continued with exciting speakers like Professor Barbara Boswell (UCT) and Dr. Philip Aghoghovwia (UFS), while a new PhD was awarded in June.
With a focus on the everyday, the book explores forms of
conviviality in Eastern and Southern African literature, both in narrative
fiction and in life writing. According to Routledge, there is an emphasis on
“…ordinary moments of recognition, of hospitality, of humour
and kindness in everyday life to illuminate the significance of repertoires of
repair in a world broken by relations of power. Putting current research on
conviviality in conversation with the literary texts, the book demonstrates how
conviviality emerges as an enabling ethical practice, as critique and survival
strategy and as embodied lived experience.”
The volume is a rich addition to Professor Steiner’s body of
work and also a contribution to Postcolonial Literature, African Studies and
Indian Ocean Studies. The Department welcomes this new publication with great
excitement and enthusiasm.
Dr Wamuwi Mbao deserves overdue congratulations for his editing of the publication of Years of Fire and Ash: South African Poems of Decolonisation with Jonathan Ball, earlier in 2021. In the collection, selected and collated by Dr Mbao, five decades of protest poetry are represented by a range of historic and contemporary South African poets. The selections speak to vital questions of decolonisation and the struggle radical social transformation, positioning many of these poems both in their own historic moments and in the continued discussion around decolonisation.
The Department also congratulates former PhD and Research Associate Dr Tyrone August, whose monograph Dennis Brutus: The South African Years (BestRed/HSRC Press 2020) made the shortlist for the 2021 Humanities and Social Sciences Awards from the Johannesburg Review of Books in the category ‘Best Non-fiction Monograph’.
The Department also offers its excited congratulations to Dr. Eva Wühr for the successful
defence, in June, of her PhD thesis, titled “Rethinking Past and Future:
Identity and Trauma in Contemporary Afrodiasporic Women’s Speculative Fiction,”
with supervisors Dr. Nadia Sanger and Professor
Ute Berns (Hamburg).
Quietly, perhaps with cautiously optimistic tones, 2021 took over from 2020. The jokes about 2020 never ending are well worn, along with suspicions that 2021 would merely be its predecessor in disguise. Much remains to be seen but here we are, at the start of a new year with plenty to reflect on and look ahead to in the first months of 2021. In the Department of English at Stellenbosch University (SU), there were reasons to celebrate as 2020 wound down and a recap is in order before we move on to the new year’s business at hand.
The department warmly congratulates Dr Jacky Kosgei on her successful viva in September, and Dr Cleo Theron, who successfully defended her thesis in December. Dr Kosgei’s thesis, titled “Imaginaries of Oceanic Histories in Oral and Written Texts from the Kenyan Coast,” was written under the supervision of Professor Tina Steiner and Dr Uhuru Phalafala. Dr Theron’s thesis, titled “Appraising the Counterpoint: Bifocal Readings of Literary Landscapes in the American Renaissance and Post-Apartheid South Africa,” was written under the supervision of Dr Megan Jones and Dr Dawid De Villiers.
In December 2020, Dr Uhuru
Phalafala was notified by Dr Blade Nzimande that she had been selected by
the Department of Higher Education and Training as a participant in the 2021
cohort of the nationally competitive Future Professors Programme. This
initiative aims to support the career development of notable young South
African scholars who have already made their mark as academics, and whose CVs
suggest they are likely to go on to make significant contributions in the
tertiary environment. (At SU, the FPP is managed by Professor Jonathan Jansen
and his team.)
Congratulations to our colleague Dr Phalafala on yet another inspiring achievement. Her selection for the FPP signals her excellence.
Professor Sally-Ann Murray’s 2019 collection Otherwise Occupied (Dryad Press)has been nominated for a 2020 South African Literary Award (SALA) in the poetry category. Already a winner of the 1991 Sanlam Prize for her first collection, Shifting, as well as the 2009 M-Net Prize for English Fiction and the 2010 Herman Charles Bosman Prize for her debut novel, Small Moving Parts, Professor Murray is now once again in the running for a top award in 2021. Professor Murray’s 2020 publications include “Queerying examples of contemporary South African short fiction” in Journal of Commonwealth Literature 2020; 55(1):77-95.
FOCUS ON: ANNIE GAGIANO
In this first newsletter for 2021, there is a special focus on the force of nature that is Professor Emerita Annie Gagiano, a member of the Department since 1969 until her official retirement in 2008; thereafter, she continued her tireless productivity as emeritus professor. In the years before Covid19-influenced Lockdowns, Professor Gagiano was unfailingly the first person to arrive to her office in the department and the last to leave. This short summary, taken from the Faculty of Arts page, is but a quick reminder of Professor Gagiano’s astounding career:
Gagiano obtained her DLitt (English Studies) in 2003 and is a Professor Emeritus in the English Department where she continues to supervise doctoral students and pursue her research in contemporary African English fiction, focusing on issues of representation of the postcolonial present with emphasis on evocations of power (including war), gender concerns and aspects of childhood. In 2002 she was co-recipient of the Rector’s Award for Excellence in Research and she serves as reader for a number of academic journals. Her two books, viz. Achebe, Head, Marechera: On Power and Change in Africa (2002) and Dealing with Evils: Essays on Writing from Africa (2008) were published respectively in the USA and Germany. Gagiano has produced numerous articles and book chapters on African texts – sometimes read in conjunction with classic texts like Shakespeare’s or in comparison with postcolonial writing from other regions. She is a member of several academic bodies such as the International Comparative Literature Association; the African Literature Association and the Association for Commonwealth Languages and Literature.
Professor Gagiano has had a busy 2020, as the following list of publications reveals:
1) Her article
“Recovering and recovering from an African past: four women’s quest narratives”
was published online in the Journal of
Transatlantic Studies. https://doi.org/10.1057/54738-019-00025-x
The print issue is in Journal of
Transatlantic Studies 17.3: 269-289. DOI: 10.1057/542738-019-00025
2) A paper she
gave at the Penang conference (the International Conference on Literature
debating the present state and possible future of Postcolonial and Diasporic
Studies) has been published in The
Wenshan Review of Literature and Culture 12.2 as an article titled
“Postcolonial Illuminations of Past Betrayals in Tan’s The Gift of Rain and Owuor’s Dust.”
The Print ISSN is 2077-1282 and the Online issue ISSN 2077-1290.
3) Her article for
a special issue of the Tydskrif vir
Letterkunde on Nuruddin Farah’s writing (edited by Fiona Fatima Moolla),
titled “Male ‘Somaliness’ in diasporic contexts: Somali authors’ evaluative
evocations”, has been published in this journal, vol.57 no. 1 (2020): 77-
87. ISSN: 0041-476x and DOI:
4) A commissioned
article titled “Complicating Apartheid Resistance Histories by Means of South
African Autobiographies” has been published in the journal a/b: Auto/Biography Studies for a special guest-edited issue; a/b vol. 35 no. 3 (2020): 667-689.
5) Her article
“Precarity, protectedness and power in Emmanuel Jal’s WARchild: a boy soldier’s story” will be published during early 2021
in a themed issue on ‘Precarity in African Literature’ (guest edited by Cheryl
Stobie) of the journal Current Writing:
Text and Reception in Southern Africa, as soon as it is assigned to an issue. DOI: 10.1080/1013929X.2020.1795352
In addition, her article on three African short stories titled “War-affected children in three African short stories: finding sanctuary within the space of placelessness” (submitted late 2019) had been accepted for publication in Commonwealth Essays & Studies in a special issue [eds Pascale Tollance & Claire Omhovère] on ‘Place & Placelessness in the Postcolonial Short Story.’
English 3 student
Sarah Uheida (the class representative, and the Dryad Press Intern, and
subsequently also the Dryad Social Media Manager), has recently won two major
Firstly, she has
won the Dan Veach Prize for Younger Writers, awarded by the United States
poetry journal, Atlanta Review. Named after an influential editor of the
journal, the prize is for an exceptional piece of work by a college student
between the ages of 18 – 23. On their Facebook page, the editors announce:
“Sarah Uheida is 22 years old and was born in Tripoli, Libya. She is a poet and
experimental memoirist currently completing her undergraduate degree in English
Studies and Psychology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Her work
features in the literary journals New Contrast, Blindeye, Eunoia
Review, The Shore, fresh.inkhttps://www.facebook.com/atlantareview/).
Secondly, out of
almost 1000 applicants, Sarah is one of four recipients selected as a 2020
Miles Morland Writing Scholar. “The awards are based on submissions which
include a book proposal and an excerpt of published writing.” The Miles Morland
Foundation “is particularly interested in supporting African writing and
African literature” (https://milesmorlandfoundation.com/),
and the prize will support Sarah’s writing of a memoir, already underway, and
likely to be the focus of her Honours independent project in 2021. As the Miles
Morland announcement puts it, Uheida’s “proposed non-linear fictionalised
memoir will centre her lived experience as a Muslim child survivor of her
country’s disintegration into the Libyan Civil War, and the challenges of
living as a refugee in South Africa. This is an ambitious project by a new and
powerful voice” (https://milesmorlandfoundation.com/morland-writing-scholarship-winners-announcement-2020/).
An extract from
Sarah’s memoir was published in the special ‘SU’ issue of New Contrast that
was edited by Professor
Sally-Ann Murray in 2019, with the support of the Mellon 30th
Anniversary Artists’ in Residence Grant. Sarah also has poems in the 2020
special issue of this journal, which features notable student writers from UWC
and SU, which was co-edited by Professor
Sally-Anne Murray and Professor
Kobus Moolman, again published with Mellon assistance.
news for the final term of class in 2020, third year undergraduate English
Studies students, who enrolled for the Olive Schreiner elective course (first
time offered) under Dr Tilla Slabbert,
were asked to conduct independent research to construct a Schreiner network,
inspired by Franco Moretti’s graph “A Tangled Mesh of Modernists”.
topics invited them to:
correspondence between Schreiner and another historical subject (e.g.
acquaintance, friend, foe, writer, politician, family member); to conduct a
close reading of the (selected) sourced material; and to discuss what the
communication reveals of each subjectivity and their individual views of
socio-political issues of the time.
2) Source a writer
(of fiction or non-fiction) or artist who has acknowledged Schreiner’s
influence on their work and sensibilities.
In a close analysis of the selected writer/artist’s work, or a
particular text from their oeuvre, explore how Schreiner inspired the
writer’s/artist’s thematic concerns and creative expression.
The group produced
a truly impressive range of research essays, and the respective subjects sourced
were brought together in this poster designed by student, Jodi Prinsloo.
BOOK PROPOSAL WORKSHOP
In November, SU Professor Extraordinaire Stephanie
Newell, based at Yale, hosted a book proposal-writing
workshop, offering her expert advice and guidance and providing feedback on the
projects of participating staff members. Follow-up sessions will be arranged in
2021 and Professor Newell, working alongside Professor
Louise Green, will continue to facilitate these.
In November 2020, universities around the country said farewell to the late Dr Robin Gaylard. Dr Gaylard was a beloved colleague in the Department of English at SU, where he worked from the late 1970s until his retirement at the end of 2009, and his loss resonates in our department and in English Departments around South Africa.
As of January 2021, the Department of English at SU also mourns the recent losses of friends who have played important roles in the story of the department, as well as losses suffered by friends, relatives and colleagues, and we pay our deepest respects to them.
2020. A year of many obstacles, but also many achievements. Despite the challenges posed by working remotely under various lockdown levels during the Covid-19 pandemic, colleagues in the English Department at Stellenbosch University (SU) have pressed on. Excellence, continuity in teaching and research: these are important, though sometimes we have simply done our best under horrible circumstances. And actually, that best is not looking too bad! Here’s a brief overview of some great achievements and activities, thus far.
Professor Louise Green’s book, Fragments from the History of Loss: Nature and the Postcolony has recently been published by Penn State University Press. The book has been recognised as a significant contribution to the politicising of the Anthropocene in contexts of postcolonial scholarship. In the words of Jennifer Wentzel, “With bracing nuance and salutary attention to inequality and immiseration, this scintillating book sifts through slices of time and fragments of nature in order to assemble shards of wisdom for living – lightly, with less – in the Anthropocene.”
Uhuru Phalafala has for almost two years been leading an
initiative to re-publish a volume called Malibongwe: Poems from the
Struggle by ANC Women, now out from uHlanga. The book is the
“first South African edition of a Struggle classic…banned by the
apartheid regime – a book in and of exile,” featuring “poems written
by women in ANC camps and offices throughout Africa and the
world”. This re-issue of Malibongwe (authorised by
the original editor Sono Molefe) “re-establishes a place for women artists
in the history of South Africa’s liberation. These are the struggles within the
Struggle”, as is argued in a new preface by Dr Phalafala, which
outlines some of the book’s publishing history.
Dr Phalafala was interviewed in August by news24’s Lindokuhle Nkosi in a Q & A piece called ‘Vernaculars of the Spirit’. Read it here.
multi-institutional editorial team, Professor
Tina Steiner and SU Prof Extraordinaire Evan Mwangi of Northwestern, worked
collaboratively on a Wits University Press edition of DDT Jabavu’s travelogue
In India and East Africa / E-Indiya nase East Africa, published in isiXhosa
and English. The book represents a long, even labyrinthine, journey for the
editors, across institutions, languages, cultures, continents, mediating
between the politics of the past and the claims of the present. In re-rendering
Jabavu’s experiences and views, it offers a very important and unusual
contribution to the field.
Dr Lauren Van der Rede has been selected for Stellenbosch University’s participation in the national ‘Early Career Academic Development (ECAD) Programme’. This institutional guidance, mentoring and grant will help to boost her already strengthening career.
Dr Tilla Slabbert is the host for a Subcommittee A Postdoc Fellowship held by Dr Lizelle Smit. The archival project focuses on recovering nineteenth and twentieth century South African women’s stories and histories. On the strength of Dr Smit’s excellent publication record, the award has been extended for a further year.
Professor Sally Ann Murray has been working with departmental colleague Dr Tilla Slabbert and University of the Western Cape (UWC) scholar Prof F Fiona Moolla, on a special issue of a/b Auto/Biography Studies. Addressing questions of ‘the AutobiogrAfrical’, the issue is just out from Routledge. Dr Nadia Sanger wrote an essay for the collection, titled ‘Bending Bodies, Signing Words: Reshaping a Father and a Feminist Practice’ .
Also, with Prof Kobus Moolman of UWC, Murray has co-edited the upcoming Spring 2020 issue of New Contrast, featuring creative work by senior students in the English departments of SU and UWC. This project is supported by her Andrew W Mellon 30th Anniversary Artists in Residence Grant, which this year saw poet Rustum Kozain teaching in the SU English Department, with artist Garth Erasmus in SU Visual Arts. Erasmus’ artwork features on the cover of the a/b special issue. Murray is also pleased with her own small creative joys, having had two poems selected for the ClemenGold Project (“The Mother of All Naartjies” and “Unforgettable”).
Dryad Press and the SU English Department have initiated an annual publishing internship, designed to offer the selected student an insight into the skills of publishing. The project was piloted in 2019, mentoring Honours student Caryn Oram (now pursuing an MA at Pretoria University). The 2020 Dryad intern is English 3 student Sarah Uheida, a poet and memoirist in the making whose work has featured in literary journals such as fresh.ink., Plume, Blindeye, the South African, and Eunoia Review.
Research Associate Dr Tyrone August’s book, Dennis Brutus, the South African Years, was published earlier in 2020 and several launches are forthcoming, with a departmental seminar discussion to be hosted later this year. The book has received attention in the USA and Dr August has been invited to join the Biographers International Organisation. Locally, the book is available at outlets like Protea Books, Clarke’s Bookshop and The Book Lounge.
Research Associate Dr Matthew Shum’s Improvisations of Empire is the first extended critical, biographical and historiographical account of the varied career and capacities of Thomas Pringle, the journalist, editor, “Scottish Romantic poet, South African settler and London-based advocate for abolition” (Jason Rudy, University of Maryland). For scholars of South African literature, “Pringle has been a long-time icon of South African liberalism,” and this “new study presents a more complex figure caught up in the contradictions of empire by a career that comprised poetry, settler propaganda and abolitionism.” You can read more about Improvisations of Empirehere.
Professor Leslie Swartz, of SU Psychology, successfully defended his PhD in English Studies in July, with Professors Shaun Viljoen and Louise Green as supervisors. His memoir How I Lost My Mother has been contracted for publication in 2021 by Wits University Press.
Wamuwi Mbao and Dr
Riaan Oppelt both contributed to the fourth issue of herri, an interactive,
inter-sensory platform that, according to editor and curator Aryan Kaganof,
attempts to answer the question, ‘What does decolonisation look like in this
age of hybridity?’ Dr Mbao wrote the essay, “Struggle Sounds” with audio clips
and Dr Oppelt wrote the play, (Ultra)
Lockdown, with original theme music.
In other news, Sarah Marecek’s documentary film Waking Stellenbosch, created as an
Honours research project in the English Department at SU, has been selected for
screening at the Encounters
Film Festival from 20 to 30 August.
Dryad Press (Dryad) is excited to announce the formal
launch of a student internship programme first piloted in 2019. The initiative
is a collaboration with Stellenbosch University’s (SU) English Department and
offers a student from the department the opportunity to experience the
multi-dimensional world of publishing, under the mentorship of Dryad’s founder,
Michèle Betty. Dryad was established in 2016 as an independent literary press
dedicated to contemporary South African poetry. It has published both new and
established poets, among them award-winners Beverly Rycroft, Sally Ann Murray
and Tony Ullyatt. Publisher Michèle Betty is also the editor of New Contrast: South African Literary Journal.
The internship is an initiative encouraged under Sally Ann Murray’s leadership
as Chair of the SU English Department; going forward, colleagues in the
department will oversee the selection process of the intern by shortlisting
candidates (ideally postgraduates enrolled for English Honours or Masters).
Dryad Press will interview potential interns, one of whom will be selected for
the 24-week internship programme. Applicants require strong writing skills and
administrative potential, and an interest in local literary culture.
The recipient of the pilot internship in 2019 was SU
English Honours student Caryn Leigh Oram. Caryn says that her “time as an
intern provided the opportunity to gain invaluable knowledge and experience in
the literary industry. Under Michèle’s guidance, I was able to refine my
industry skills, learn the publishing process and, of course, read exceptional
poetry. The internship programme is a brilliant opportunity.” The internship
enabled so many reciprocal benefits that Caryn now serves as Dryad’s social
media consultant, and the Dryad/SU PIP has been formalised as an annual
The intern selected for 2020 is Sarah Uheida, who is
currently completing her BA, majoring in English. She is a poet with several
credits to her name, and an experimental memoirist whose work has garnered
expressions of interest from publishers.
We congratulate Sarah on her appointment as the Dryad
intern, and wish her a productive six month stint at Dryad, from June to
New book by SU English Department Research
Associate, Dr Matthew Shum
Improvisations of Empire is the first extended critical, biographical and historiographical
account of the varied career and capacities of Thomas Pringle, the journalist,
editor, “Scottish Romantic poet, South African settler and London-based
advocate for abolition” (Jason Rudy, University of Maryland). For scholars of
South African literature, “Pringle has been a long-time icon of South African
liberalism,” and this “new study presents a more complex figure caught up in
the contradictions of empire by a career that comprised poetry, settler
propaganda and abolitionism. Equally in command of close reading and
relocations that include Scotland, Cape Colony and mid-nineteenth-century
London, Improvisations of Empire is a truly eye-opening study” (Jon Mee,
University of York). Published by Anthem Press (New York), in its series
Advances in African Cultural Studies, Shum’s volume “shows how a careful
reading of a literary oeuvre can transform how we think about the legacies of
the colonial era. It rescues Pringle from the realms of liberal mythmaking,
casting new light on a historical period in which nation-building,
class-consciousness, abolition, Christian evangelism and colonialism were
deeply entangled” (Peter D. McDonald, University of Oxford). Improvisations
of Empire “is likely to remain the definitive reading of Thomas Pringle for
many years to come” (David Attwell, University of York).
With the permission of the Skotnes family,
the front cover of the book features an image by Cecil Skotnes, from a series
of large painted panels housed in the 1820 Settlers Monument in Makhanda