South African life writing and journalism
Psychoanalytic and Marxist literary theory
The prison autobiography is my main research focus area. My PhD (UCT, 2007) is entitled Presenting the Past: South African Prison Writing Under Apartheid. It investigates a range of South African autobiographical accounts of imprisonment, most of them by political prisoners under apartheid. Its principal focus is on the ways in which the prison as physical and ideological space intersects with a conscious literary construction of identity. The argument is that in these accounts, the prison features as both object and subject: it appears as one of the objects of description, a referent among others in a structured succession of events, but in fact it also serves as the very frame that enables and structures the consciousness that speaks about - and from within - the prison.
I am currently working on a book based on the PhD, and also on post-apartheid prison writing and journalism dealing with prisons. Articles on these topics have been submitted to journals. A corollary research interest relates to the experience of imprisonment in other African contexts: at the moment, I am particularly interested in Kenyan prison narratives, and am supervising a PhD that offers a comparative study of South African and Kenyan prison literature. The NRF awarded me a grant from 2009-2011 to help me complete the book, publish further articles, attend conferences and fund postgraduate students. The title of the NRF project is "Writing the Prison", and it falls under the larger Faculty-based "Transitions and Translations" IRDP project under the leadership of Professor Dirk Klopper.
Renaissance literature and culture
I also conduct research in Early Modern writing, especially the work of Christopher Marlowe. In some of my publications, I try to initiate a conversation between notions of subjectivity in Renaissance literature on the one hand, and the experience and manufacture of identity in the postcolonial world on the other.