James Downs, associate professor of history and American studies, will spend the 2015-16 academic year studying medical anthropology at Harvard University.
The Department of Literatures in English brings to campus one of South Africa's foremost literary critics for a talk on Wednesday, Jan. 30, at 4:30 p.m. in the Charles Chu Asian Art Reading Room of Shain Library.
Leon de Kock will deliver "Post-postapartheid Projections: South African Writing in a Transnational Age," which addresses the trade-offs between national relevance and global resonance in evaluating South African writing from the Truth and Reconciliation era to the present. The talk will also touch on the significance of South African literature's post-transition identity crisis and world literature as a whole.
"South Africa has long aroused international fascination, and many of the best-known and most commonly taught Anglophone African literary works address the systematized racial oppression of apartheid," said Jeanne-Marie Jackson, visiting assistant professor. "In recent years, though, the country and its literature have begun struggling with more mundane concerns. It thus provides a unique and timely case study in moving from 'globalized' isolation to something more like universal experience."
Jackson notes that many people around the world know South Africa through the media and social sciences and are unaware of the country's robust literary tradition, which grapples with problems such as the exclusion of Africa from "high" cultural discourse. As a journalist, scholar and writer, de Kock can speak to this and other concerns.
"In the true spirit of a liberal arts education, 'Post-postapartheid Projections: South African Writing in a Transnational Age' will go one step further than simply advocating for global reading," said Jackson. "It will raise timely questions about what this new imperative actually means in relation to other literary cultures."
The talk is free and open to the public. For more information, call 860-439-2350.