Reconsidering Literatures: Directions in South African Literary Studies

deadline for submissions: 
June 1, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
The Journal of Literary Studies
contact email: 

Festschrift for Andries W. Oliphant

In a 2004 article, Andries W. Oliphant writes that “a national literature does not exist in South Africa. […] Taken separately or together, [the distinct literatures of the country] do not constitute a national literature,” since such a national literature “presupposes a single all-embracing narrative with a nationalist theme in which all the literatures are shown to have participated over time” (2004:22-23). More than fifteen years later, one wonders how much has changed since. The socio-cultural pendulum seems to be swinging away from what Oliphant in the early years of the century called a “putative post-nationalist epoch of globalisation”, with its concomitant questioning of the nation-state and acceptance of “multiplicity,  diversity  and difference” (2004:23). It seems apt to ask, then, whether literature and our conceptions of literary studies have similarly changed direction(s).

The Journal of Literary Studies would like to invite abstracts for a Festschrift in honour of Prof. Oliphant for his contributions to literary studies and culture in South Africa. Oliphant is well known as literary scholar and author in South Africa and abroad. For many years, he headed the Theory of Literature section in the Department of Afrikaans and Theory of Literature at the University of South Africa (Unisa), in addition to serving as one of the editors of the Journal of Literary Studies, the journal of the Literature Association of South Africa (LASA; formerly SAVAL/SASGLS) and advising the South African Department of Arts and Culture on numerous policies during the course of the last 25 years. In addition to his many contributions to the field of literary studies, he has also received the Thomas Pringle Award for Short Stories.

Interested scholars are invited to submit contributions of around 6000 words that engage broadly with any of the following topics:

  • The transformation and decolonisation of South African literary studies.
  • Writing, publishing and reading practices beyond the language silos set by apartheid.
  • South African literatures on the world stage.
  • Transnationalism, post-transitionality, Rainbow nationalism and South African exceptionalism.
  • Resurgent nationalism and ethnicism and their impacts on literature and literary studies.
  • Genres in South African literature(s).
  • Comparative perspectives (locally, but also beyond South Africa).

While the point of departure for the collection is the diverse literary landscape of South Africa, contributions focusing on other regions and languages are also welcomed in the interest of including broader comparative perspectives. Contributions will be subject to a double-blind peer review process.

The Festschrift will be published as a special issue of the Journal of Literary Studies and will be edited by Dr Reinhardt Fourie (Department of English Studies, Unisa), Prof. Alan Northover (Department of Afrikaans and Theory of Literature, Unisa) and Prof. Hein Viljoen (Research Unit: Languages and Literature in the South African Context, North-West University). Contributions can be in English or Afrikaans. Abstracts of around 300 words should be submitted by 1 March 2021. Complete articles will be due by 1 June 2021. All submissions can be sent to Dr Reinhardt Fourie (fourir@unisa.ac.za).

The Journal of Literary Studies is indexed in the Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI) of Web of Science; the British Humanities Index; the Humanities International Index; the Index to South African Periodicals; Scopus; and the MLA International Bibliography. It is published by Taylor & Francis (https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rjls20/current) in collaboration with Unisa Press.