Call for Papers WSAN 2014


Writing South Africa Now: Twenty Years On

University of York in association with University of Cambridge

June 7, 2014 

Venue: University of York, United Kingdom

CFP deadline: April 15, 2014


Two decades after apartheid, South Africa remains a land of contrasts. A compelling though somewhat under-theorised generation of newcomers, including Niq Mhlongo and Kopano Matlwa, joins the ranks of heavyweights like Ivan Vladislavić and Antjie Krog in grappling with the host of complex challenges – social inequality, HIV/AIDS, and violent crime, to mention a few – which continue into the post-apartheid era. As Jonny Steinberg investigates prisons and AIDS clinics, Lauren Beukes shifts South African cities into cyberpunk overdrive. As Zoë Wicomb interrogates racial identity and belonging, Mike Nicol’s characters slug it out on the streets. And Coetzee, well, Coetzee now looks to other shores.

This year sees the twentieth anniversary of South Africa’s democracy, and offers timely cause for reflection on the complex changes and continuities concerning South African literature and literary studies. In what ways have post-apartheid texts responded to the socio-political changes following the downfall of formal apartheid? Who are the noteworthy new voices of the past two decades, and how do their texts draw on and depart from South African classics? How should scholars go about identifying contemporary currents in a critical landscape that often simplifies or elides any substantive scholarly or social distinctions between ‘now’ and ‘then’?

Writing South Africa Now: Twenty Years On is a one-day colloquium on South African literature to be held at the University of York on Saturday, June 7th, 2014. The event is the second in a series initiated by the University of Cambridge aimed at making new critical voices from within the UK and elsewhere heard. It follows that the convenors privilege proposals from postgraduate students and early-career researchers dealing with any aspect of South African textual cultures. Possible research fields include but are not restricted to: literature, media, theatre, film, spoken word, publishing, and translation studies.

Although all conference proceedings will be conducted in English only, considerations of South African texts produced in other languages would be welcome. A range of submissions would help achieve Writing South Africa Now’s overarching goal: to facilitate critical conversations across literary genres and relevant disciplines. For this reason, the convenors also accept proposals based on research being conducted ‘now’ on South African literature of any period, in order to help situate contemporary research projects within broader historical, national and transnational contexts. A concluding interview with Professors Derek Attridge and David Attwell from the University of York will encourage questions and further discussion on the conference theme as a whole.

Please submit abstracts of up to 300 words for 20-minute papers, one-page CV’s, and panel suggestions (optional) to the convenors, Fai Suthipinittharm and Imke van Heerden, at by April 15th, 2014.

Attendance is free, and Writing South Africa Now warmly welcomes all those with an interest in South African writing to attend, given that a generous provision of time has been dedicated to discussion. Refreshments will be provided. Please confirm attendance at least one month in advance.

Feel free to contact us if any questions should arise.




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