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Department of English People

Department of English - Academic Staff

English Literary Studies


Michael Wessels (D.Litt, UKZN) is an Associate Professor and chairperson of the Department of English. His research explores new ways of reading San oral literature and the politics of indigeneity. He also writes about the representation of place and spirituality in South African literature. Other teaching and research interests include postcolonial literature, romanticism, travel writing and ecocriticism. He is the author of Bushman Letters (Johannesburg: Wits Press, 2010). Recent publications include “The Creation of the Eland: A Close Reading of a Drakensberg San Narrative” (Critical Arts, 2014), “The Representation of Place and Religion in Nkosinathi Sithole’s Hunger Eats a Man” (Scrutiny2, 2014) and San Representation Politics, Practice and Possibilities (K. Tomaselli and M. Wessels eds. London: Routledge, 2015).


Julia Martin (D.Litt, UWC) is a Professor in the Department of English. Her research involves  experiments in ecological literacy, with  a focus on the genre of creative nonfiction as a  lively medium for contemporary writing in the Humanities. This interest in reading and writing literary responses to the crisis of environment and development began with a particular focus on the work of Gary Snyder. More recently she has written about the representation of place(s), interconnectedness and deep time, in a variety of texts. 
She has published widely, including the volume Writing Home (Cape Town: Carapace, 2002) and  A  Millimetre of Dust: Visiting Ancestral Sites  (Cape Town: Kwela Books, 2008), as well a recent book, Nobody Home, a publication of conversations between Martin and Gary Snyder (2015, Trinity Press).


FFiona Moolla (PhD, UCT) is an Associate Professor with research interests in the novel, as well as African literature and orature. She has a special interest in cultural and philosophical constructions of the person in African, European and Islamic worlds. This translates in practice into an ethical concern with human beings in a dynamic, connected, charged cosmos. Dr Moolla is the author of the monograph, Reading Nuruddin Farah: The Individual, the Novel & the Idea of Home (James Currey 2014), and the following journal articles: “The Body Unbound: Ritual Scarification and Autobiographical forms in Wole Soyinka’s Aké: The Years of Childhood ” (The Journal of Commonwealth Literature), “When Orature Becomes Literature: Somali Oral Poetry and Folk Tales in Somali Novels” (Comparative Literature Studies),“Border Crossings in the African Travel Narratives of Ibn Battuta, Richard Burton and Paul Theroux” (Journal of Postcolonial Writing), “Desert Ethics, Myths of Nature and Novel Form in the Narratives of Ibrahim al-Koni.” (Tydskrif vir die Letterkunde), with forthcoming articles on romantic love in the work of Ama Ata Aidoo and postnationalism in Nuruddin Farah’s recent novels. She also is the editor of the volume, The Natures of Africa: Ecocriticism and Animal Studies in Contemporary Cultural Forms (WITS UP, 2016).

Dr Moolla has been a recipient of both Mellon and Fulbright scholarships and has received numerous university awards for research and teaching. Her experience includes freelance journalism and non-academic publication. She is the author of award winning published short fiction (HSBC/SA Pen, judged by J.M. Coetzee) and children’s fiction and non-fiction on literary topics (Cambridge UP).


n (PhD, UKZN) is an Associate Professor of English and directs the department's Creative Writing programme. He has published six collections of poetry as well as several plays. He has also edited an anthology of poetry and prose by South African writers living with disabilities. He was the guest editor of the 2015 special issue of Current Writing journal on the teaching of creative writing. He has won numerous national and international awards including recently the 2015 Glenna Luschei Award for African Poetry. His research focuses on disability studies, the pedagogy of creative writing, and on hybrid genres with a specific focus on forms of contemporary poetry. He is keenly interested in developing the voices of young, up and coming South African poets. He rececenly published an acclaimed collection of short stories, The Swimming Lesson and Other Stories (UKZN Press, 2017).


Nkosinathi Sithole (PhD, UKZN) was appointed as an Associate Professor in the department in 2017.  His research interests include oral literature and performance; postcolonial studies; black South African literary history; African literature as well as African-language literatures. He has published a number of articles and chapters and the book Isaiah Shembe’s Hymns and the Sacred Dance in Ibandla LamaNazaretha was published by Brill in 2016. In 2015 he won the “Research Productivity Emerging Researcher” Award at the University of Zululand where he taught between September 2012 and February 2015. His debut novel Hunger eats a man (Penguin SA, 2015) won the Sunday Times’ Barry Ronger Fiction Prize and jointly won the UJ Debut Prize for South African Literature in English (both in 2016). He is currently working on a book called Resituating African-language Literatures in African Literary Studies (working title) and a creative non-fiction book on Isaiah Shembe.  E-mail: 

​​Hermann Wittenberg (D.Litt, UWC) is an Associate Professor of English. His research focuses on South African literary studies within a broadly book-historical theoretical framework. He has worked extensively on theories of spatiality, the sublime and landscape in colonial and postcolonial travel writing, and has published several archival studies of the writings of J.M. Coetzee and Alan Paton, including a travelogue titled Lost City of the Kalahari (UKZN Press, 2005), and an edited book of J.M. Coetzee's film adaptions, titled Two Screenplays (UCT Press, 2014). He has strong interests in eco-critical writing and convened the 2011 “Literature and Ecology” colloquium in Kleinmond. He was joint editor of the interdisciplinary collection of essays, Rwenzori: Histories and Cultures of an African Mountain. (Kampala: Fountain Press 2007) and guest editor for a special issue volume of the journal Alternation (2013/2). 

Together with Farzanah Badsha, he curated the "JM Coetzee: Photographs from Boyhood" exhibition which previewed in Oxford, and showed at the Irma Stern Museum 25 November 2017 - 20 January 2018.

Roger Field (D Litt, UWCis a Senior Lecturer. His teaching ranges from Homer to Zakes Mda. His research and supervision interests include South African and African literature; the Greek poets Constantin Cavafy and George Seferis; biography and autobiography; Edward Said and psychoanalytic theory; modernism; mythology and literature; documentary film. In 1995, he organized a colloquium on the South African writer Alex la Guma. He has co-edited Liberation Chabalala: The World of Alex la Guma (1993) and Trauma and Topography (2000). His more recent publications include Alex la Guma: A Literary and Political Biography (Jacana, 2010), ‘Coming Home, Coming Out: Achmat Dangor’s Journeys Through Myth and Constantin Cavafy’, and ‘”…The Agapanthi, Asphodels of the Negroes…”: Life-Writing, Landscape and Race in the South African Diaries and Poetry of George Seferis’, both in English Studies in Africa, and “Freud, Said and the Ancient and Classical Worlds” (Literator). He has supervised PhD theses on Dennis Brutus, and the Rhodesian war poet Chas Lotter, and MA theses on Alex la Guma, and Hollywood representations of Africa. His current supervision includes nationalism and poetry, and the films of Ousmane Sembène.


Susan Ntete – PhD (UWC), M Ed (Rhodes); B Ed (UCT); BA (UNISA); Secondary Teachers’ Diploma (STD) - Dr W. B. Rubusana College of Education PLUS certificates obtained from both local and international institutions of higher learning - is a senior lecturer at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in Cape Town, South Africa. She specializes in the teaching and learning of English as a second language. Her Masters' thesis titled 'Case Studies of learners who excel at writing in English as a second language' is based on a study that she had conducted while teaching in a high school in Mdantsane where she grew up. The thesis she wrote toward the completion of her PhD on the other hand, is based on a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) of life-histories written by Grade 11 learners from the Nyanga Township in Cape Town. Dr Ntete’s current research interest is in the relationship between formal education and broader familial and social structures, and how these impact pedagogy. She is author of the book Transcending Disadvantage: Life Histories of Learners at a township school in South Africa (Lambert Publishers, Saarbrucken 2010).


Meg van der Merwe  BA Hons (Oxon), MA (Sussex), MA with Distinction (East Anglia), PGCE (Univ London), PhD (Lancaster) is a Senior Lecturer in the UWC English Department. She teaches English Literature and Creative Writing at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She has published academic and creative work in South Africa, the UK, the US and Australia. Her two works of fiction are, This Place I Call Home (2010) and Zebra Crossing (2013). Zebra Crossing was selected by the Cape Times as one of the ten best South African books published in 2013 and was Long Listed for the 2014 Sunday Times Literary Award.

Meg is interested in the practise and nurture of creative writing, as well as its pedagogical theory, particularly in a multi-lingual Southern African context. Other areas of academic and creative research include: immigrant writing, most notably depictions of the refugee, migrant and immigrant in (Southern) African fiction, as well as the treatment of xenophobia; women writing about war; the experience of people with Albinism in Southern Africa; African American women’s writing; American Literature and Theory post 1945 and the works of Virginia Woolf.

Meg is also on the board of the CMDR (Centre for Multilingualism and Diversities Research) at UWC where her responsibilities include, UWC CREATES, the first multi-lingual Creative Writing programme in South African Higher Education.


Cheryl-Ann Michael (MA, Cantab) is a Senior Lecturer in the department whose research interests are Narrative theory and theories of autobiography; children’s literature; 19th century fiction (Jane Austen, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope); slave narratives (18th and 19th century British and American narratives), the history of art and the novel, narratives of science and the novel, cultures of food writing (essays, memoirs and fiction).

Alannah Birch (PhD, UWC) is a lecturer in the English department, with research interests in modernism, South African literature, poetry, psychoanalysis and gender studies. Her MA thesis investigated the role of gender in T.S. Eliot’s poetry. She has recently completed a PhD dissertation on the South African poet Roy Campbell, which explores the modernist literary networks of which he was part in the 1920s and 1930s.  

Courtney Davids (PhD Stell, MA UWC) has been lecturing in the department  since 2015. She has strong interests in Victorian and Romantic fiction, with a strong focus on the Gothic. Her PhD, "From Chawton to Oakland: Configuring the Nineteenth Century Domestic in Catherine Hubback's Writings", analysed the fiction of a minor and little studied Victorian novelist. Besides her period studies interests, she is interested in female writing, poetry and letters.


Mark Espin (MA, PhD UWC) is a Lecturer in the Department. His post graduate studies were devoted to twentieth-century fiction, specifically the work of Michael Ondaatje and John Berger. He holds a PhD from the University of the Western Cape and has also had poetry published in literary journals and anthologies. A first collection, Falling from Sleep, was published by Botsotso Publishers in 2007. His research interests include, the contemporary novel, modern poetry, and travel writing.


Peter Kohler (MA, Toronto) is a Lecturer in English. He focus is on the teaching of South African Literature, with special emphasis on J.M. Coetzee. He co-edited a book of Alan Paton’s poetry, Songs of Africa: Collected poems of Alan Paton, which was published by Gecko Books in 1995.  

Emeritus Professors

Prof. Anthony Parr (PhD, Toronto) is an Emeritus Professor of English and past chairperson of the department. He has published a number of essays on early modern travel writing and cartography, and is currently completing a book entitled Renaissance Mad Voyages, a study of the way in which the ancient trope of the fantastic voyage is activated in English travel and related enterprises as well as in literary uses of the voyage motif during the early modern period.  His next project in this field is a volume in the projected edition of Richard Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations, to be published by Oxford University Press. 
Professor Parr has also edited a wide range of dramatic texts from the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, including plays by Jonson, Dekker, Middleton and Shakespeare. His edition of Three Renaissance Travel Plays (Manchester 1995) is a widely used collection, and his most recent work in this field is an edition of Jonson’s The Devil is an Ass for the recently published Collected Works of Ben Jonson (Cambridge 2011).  He is also part of the team assembled by Oxford University Press to produce a new edition of the Complete Works of James Shirley. 
His wide literary interests include modern fiction and poetry, twentieth-century drama in English, and writing about animals and the environment. Modernism, as an unfinished cultural and political phenomenon, remains one of his abiding preoccupations. A keen musician, he has also published several articles in the latest editions of the Grove Dictionary of Opera and the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.  


Prof. Stanley Ridge (D. Litt, British Columbia) is an Emeritus Professor in the English Department, and a former Chairperson, Dean of Arts and Vice Rector. He was Chair of the Council of the National English Literary Museum in Grahamstown, a member of the National Heritage Council, and a member of the National Language Body for English. He is also the academic trustee of the Babette Taute Trust, which awards scholarships to students of English and supports the National English Literary Museum. In 2004 he was awarded the English Academy Gold Medal for "sustained, distinguished service to English".
Prof. Ridge has expertise in Higher Education and Language Policy and Planning; Renaissance Literature; 19th Century American Literature; Religion and Literature; South African Literary and Publishing History Across Language Lines; Discourse Analysis; Sociolinguistics; Translation Studies.​ 

Prof. Ridge passed away in January 2018, and the department extends condolences to his family. His contributions to the university as a scholar and academic leader, and to English Studies more widely, will be keenly missed. 

Professor Wendy Woodward (PhD, UCT) is an Emeritus Professor who has taught southern African Literature, Animal Studies and Creative Writing in the English Department. The Animal Gaze: Animal Subjectivities in southern African Narratives (Wits University Press, 2008) was awarded the Deputy Vice Chancellor’s Book Award for 2006-2008, and her second volume of poetry, Love, Hades and other Animals (Protea, 2008) was recently published. She organised the Colloquium, Figuring the Animal in Post-Apartheid South Africa, (May 2011) where a decision was taken to form the Animal Studies Round Table in Africa (ASRA). 
In mid-2011 Prof Woodward was a Visiting Professor at the School of English and Philosophy at the University of Wollongong and keynote speaker at the Global Animal Conference. She is a Research Associate of the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies in Christchurch and is on the academic advisory board for the Minding Animals International Conference in Utrecht in 2012. Her current research focuses on the urban animal photographs of Fanie Jason, as well as on the practices of animal-reading, affect and ethics. 

Extraordinary Professors

David Attwell (BA and BA (Honours) University of Natal; MA and PhD at UCT) is Professor of English at the University of York, and holds an extraordinary professorship in the Department of English at UWC, where he began his academic career. He has held appointments at UKZN and Wits, and has held visiting professorships at the University of Texas at Austin, John Carroll University and the University of Stockholm. He is a Fellow of the English Association (UK), a Life Fellow of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and a Fellow of the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies.  

David Attwell is a leading Coetzee scholar with landmark publications in this field, but he is more widely interested in postcolonial studies: postcolonial theory, critical formations in postcolonial countries, anglophone African writing, South African literature, and theories and practices of cultural translation.

Zakes Mda is a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Ohio, Athens. He is one of South Africa's most celebrated writers, working in a range of genres. Novels such as Ways of Dying, The Heart of Redness, Madonna of Excelsior, Black Diamond  have brought him critical and popular acclaim, and are widely prescribed  in literature curricula. Besides novels, he writes plays, poems and articles for academic journals and newspapers, and his writing has been translated into twenty languages. His creative work also includes painting, and theatre and film productions. 

Graham Mort is Professor of Creative Writing and Transcultural Literature at Lancaster University (UK) and an Extraordinary Professor with the Department of English at UWC. 

Graham has worked extensively across sub-Saharan Africa on literature development and radio broadcasting projects and also with Soran University in Kurdistan on a project to recoup the narratives of women who lived through the Al Anfal genocide against the Kurds. 

He has worked on writing projects throughout the UK, tutored on Arvan Foundation and Tales in Trust courses, and held fellowships and writing residencies that include the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, The Times Educational Supplement, as well as a recent Leverhulme International Fellowship in Cape Town. Graham has published two collections of short fiction and ten volumes of poetry and has won a number of literary awards for his work. His latest book of poems is Black Shiver Moss (Seren), 2017.

Rita Barnard  (PhD, Duke) is Professor of English and Comparative Literature​ at the University of Pennsylvania where she also directs the Comparative Literature Program. She has published widely and prolifically in postcolonial studies, South African literature and comparative literature, and is author of The Great Depression and the Culture of Abundance (Cambridge University Press, 1995) and Apartheid and Beyond: South African Writers and the Politics of Place (Oxford University Press, 2006). She had edited the journal Safundi for a number of years, and was also the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Nelson Mandela (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

Mikki Flockemann (Ph.D, UN) is Extraordinary Associate Professor in the Department of English. Her primary research interest is the aesthetics of transformation. Her publications include comparative studies of diasporic writings from South Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean. More recently, her focus has extended to looking at interconnectedness between local cultural production and the Indian Ocean World.  She has a long-standing interest in interdisciplinary approaches, and is co-convenor of an interdisciplinary Humanities course, and teaches a final year Topics in Theatre elective.
She has a strong interest in aesthetic trends in South African theatre and her work has appeared in collections such as The Routledge Reader in Gender and Performance (1998), The Routledge Reader in Post-coloniality and Performance (2000),  and SA Lit Beyond 2000 (2011). She has also published in journals such as Kunapipi, Tulsa Women’s Studies , Ariel, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, MaComere, International Journal of Learning, Journal of Literary Studies, Pretexts, English Academy Review, English in Africa,  South African Theatre Journal, Journal for Theatre and Drama, Contemporary Theatre Review, AlterNation and English Studies in Africa.  She is engaged in two performance-related projects on Migrancy, Citizenship and Performance as well as Postcoloniality and Performative Aesthetics.​

Andrew van der Vlies  (MA (Rhodes) MPhil DPhil (Oxford)) is Professor of Contemporary Literature and Postcolonial Studies at Queen Mary's University in London, and hold an honorary associate professorship at UWC. He is a leading South African literary scholar and a prolific researcher. He has edited a landmark volume titled Print, Text and Book Cultures in South Africa (Wits) and is the author of South African Textual Cultures (Manchester University Press, 2007) and  Present Imperfect: Contemporary South African Writing (Oxford University Press, 2017). His research interests span contemporary world literatures in English, South African writing (in English and Afrikaans), postcolonial print cultures, book history, translation, and archives; Queer theory, especially queer postcolonial studies; and affect studies.


English for Educational Development (EED)

Mahmoud Patel - MCL (Comparative Law) (IIU),  MPhil (SLS) (Stellenbosch) lectures and Coordinates the English for Educational Development (EED) course offered to the Faculty of Law students. He is also the Overall Coordinator of the EED Programme. His research interests focus on Second Language acquisition in an academic development (AD) context; Law and Language development in an AD context as well as, Supplementary Instruction improving language proficiency and assessing academic literacy.

Sharita Bharuthram (PhD UKZN), a Senior Lecturer in the EED programme, joined the department of in 2008.  She obtained her PhD in Academic Literacies, in particular focusing on improving reading comprehension through integrated reading and writing strategy interventions.  Dr Bharuthram has been lecturing at higher education institutions since 1997, having worked at the Durban University of Technology in KwaZulu Natal, and at the University of Johannesburg.  She currently lectures the English for Educational Development course offered to the Community and Health Science students.  Her areas of interest also include discourse analysis. 

Kenneth Goodman (M Ed Applied Linguistics & Language Education, UWC)  has led the EED programme for several years. He has been active in academic development at UWC since 1992, and his specific research interests include applied linguistics and language education, academic literacy and standardised assessment testing. At present involved in a comparative study researching epistemological access in an integrated foundation academic literacy programme in the science faculty and the stand alone English for Educational Development Science module. He has been a member of a standardised test development programme from 1997 - 2007 and is currently on the test development panel for the National Bench Test (NBT). He also has a keen research interest in masculinities and queer studies, researching identity and desire in gay male pornography. 
E- mail:

Jacolien Volschenk – (MA, Stellenbosch) – joined the English Department in 2011. Her PhD examines three novels by Caribbean science fiction author Nalo Hopkinson. This project (which is almost complet)e is entitled "Temporal Entanglement and Creole as Textual Subversion: Female Subjectivities in the Work of Nalo Hopkinson." In addition to literary interests, she is also focused on developing different ways of teaching academic literacies in conjunctions with science literacy and critical thinking.


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