Ways of Reading: Literature and literacy

deadline for submissions: 
February 28, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
English Academy of Southern Africa

EASA International Conference 2023

Ways of Reading: Literature and literacy (proposed theme)

7-8 December, 2023, University of the Free State (Bloemfontein)


To speak of literature and literacy in a single breath is perhaps to take for granted a linear relationship: any appreciation of the former requires proficiency in the latter. Of course, such proficiency is itself unstable and shifting, subject not only to different formative contexts and approaches but also to material and technological changes. Nor is literacy a value-neutral term: while it denotes at its most basic level the ability to read and write, a more nuanced understanding recognizes its capacity to confer value and shape aesthetic judgement. Already implicit in such an understanding is the mutually reinforcing relation between literature and literacy: the cognitive skillset which enables us to read is constantly being modified by what we read, and also by the material forms which our reading takes. On the one hand, the entanglement of literature and literacy is cultural issue: it asks, for instance, how particular writers, or movements, or literary-critical approaches shape our reading habits, our ways of seeing. On the other hand, the same entanglement draws out questions about social justice, access to education, and material affordances.


With the interconnectedness of literature and literacy in mind, the English Academy of Southern Africa invites papers on topics including (but not limited to):

−      Book cultures and the Global South;

−      Digital reading cultures: what’s lost, what’s gained?

−      Literacies shaped by different literatures /schools of criticism / institutional structures / book prizes;

−      The role of literature departments in addressing social justice issues;

−      The reading brain and body: embeddedness, embodiment, and cognition;

−      Literacy, oracy, and access;

−      The academic essay: legacies and trajectories;

−      Material literacy: notetaking, reading habits, technological tools, the future of the book as object;

−      Writers as readers;

−      Cultural literacy and decolonised canons;

−      Student literacy and university readiness;

−      Close reading and its afterlives;

−      Writers, indigenous narratives, and the handling of cultural heritage.



Please send 300-word abstracts to englishAcademy@societies.wits.ac.za by 28 Feb, 2023.