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The Department of English focuses on the study of local and international literature written in English, and also offers elective courses in literary, film and cultural studies as well as creative writing. The undergraduate core courses range widely over different periods, genres and localities, providing instruction in traditional areas of English literary studies as well as in postcolonial literary studies and cultural studies. Through its emphasis on small-group teaching seminars, our curriculum enables students to shape their studies according to their own interests and needs.

The intensive Honours course both consolidates the work done at undergraduate level with a compulsory theory course in twentieth century thought pertinent to literary and cultural studies, and a compulsory long research essay that prepares the ground for study at Masters level.  Here staff teach in their areas of research and students choose from a range of topics as diverse as nineteenth century studies, contemporary East African studies, literary practices, narrative theory, ecocriticism, biographical studies and modernity.

Over the last few years we have recruited a large and diverse body of masters and doctoral students from scattered geographies who work more often than not with a supervisory team, and also participate in our research seminar programme as well as in courses offered in the African Doctoral Academy and in a number of reading groups organised by staff. Staff and postgraduate students are active in a number of Departmental projects like our Transitions and Translations project which sets up collaboration with colleagues from a number of partner universities in East, West and Southern Africa, and has brought a new dynamic to our work in African literature. The Stellenbosch Literary Project (SLiP), its website (SLiPNet) and the public performance sessions of Inzync have engaged staff and students with a wider public in ways that have opened us to the power of the critical word, of literature and the performative in our contemporary lives.

Our fifteen full-time members of staff and almost thirty tutors (who are also our postgraduate students) are committed to the value of the critical imagination, of hard work and to an esprit de corps in the Department. We have, we believe, a vibrant and supportive place of study and of personal growth in an institution that is attempting to re-invent itself.


For more than three centuries the Cape has served as a passageway linking the cultures of West and East, North and South. Taking into consideration these historical and geographical contexts, the Department of English at Stellenbosch University seeks, in its teaching and research, to affirm its location at the junction of the local and the global. From the perspective of the postcolonial present, it maps transcultural literary movements that reach back in time and extend across several continents, showing how identity and difference create sites of hybridity that facilitate transformed subjectivities.

Our mission is to provide students with the skills and insights needed to engage with and interpret a wide variety of texts, including film and other media; to introduce students to the rich diversity of literatures written in English, both locally and globally; to develop an awareness of, and sensitivity to, the English language and its uses; to promote discussion and debate, stimulate intellectual curiosity, and open up areas for further enquiry and research; to be accessible to students from all linguistic, educational, and cultural backgrounds; to equip students to participate as critical and articulate citizens and agents in contemporary society; to develop the teaching methods and research output of staff; to foster an understanding of our history and culture, and of our contemporary reality as an African society in transformation; to assist in transforming the institution in which we teach.

Our methodology includes contextualising literary and other texts, and creating an awareness of the factors affecting representation and cultural production; equipping students with the skills and understanding needed to read critically and communicate effectively; facilitating interaction between students and tutors in small-group or seminar classes; encouraging and enabling students to become independent learners, with the ability to access library and on-line resources and develop research projects; adopting the teaching practices of academic development, particularly in the first year; this also entails the training of postgraduate tutors; using online resources, including computer-assisted language learning, and in general participating in the worldwide community of English scholars; working to change historical and institutional constraints which inhibit our efforts to realise our mission.


Affiliated Sites

This research theme is concerned with modes of representation and interpretation, and specifically with the ways in which Africa is figured in local and global imaginaries.

The Stellenbosch Literary Project, was set up as a public media and events platform to advance literary and performance culture in all languages in South Africa.

A project of the Department of English at Stellenbosch University, SLiP also acts as a hub for community engagement in the both the literary and performance spheres.


  • Atlantic and Indian Oceans: crossings and encounters
  • Genders and sexualities
  • Life writing and fictions of the self
  • The local, the global and the transnational  
  • Reading the nineteenth century
  • Scholarship of teaching and learning
  • Southern and Eastern African studies
  • The Cultures of Nature



Doctoral Dissertations

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