Deputy Vice Chancellor gives faculties opportunity to brag
“In a university environment where so much emphasis is placed on critical engagement and analysis, it is important to emphasize that creative work is also a significant way of knowing, thinking, understanding, exploring, and, yes, analysing - the creative and critical are not in opposition, but actually intimately related.”
So said Professor Duncan Brown, Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), speaking at UWC Academic Week 2017, held from 11 September to 15 September 2017 at the School of Public Health.
What are University of the Western Cape academics most excited about? What do they want all their students, peers and friends to know? What are they working on right now that they can’t help sharing? Academic Week 2017 gave the different faculties the chance to showcase their work and pedagogies with the entire campus community.
The Faculty of Arts’ UWC Creates programme is the only creative writing programme in South Africa operating across three languages - Afrikaans, English and isiXhosa. Students are exposed to both prose and poetry writing, learning to work with their particular abilities and develop their own individual voices - and they get to work with exceptional creative writers, including Antjie Krog, Kobus Moolman, Meg Vandermerwe, Nkosinathi Sithole, Sindiwe Magona and Wendy Woodward.
Academic Week provided attendees a glimpse of that talent, with poetry readings, literary discussions and the like.
“We do a lot of different things at the Faculty of Arts, and we could have chosen to showcase a variety of different activities,” Prof Brown said, “but I am delighted that we started with creative work, because it’s easy to forget just what a difference this can make in our lives and our societies.”
Starting the creative writing program at UWC was like a distant dream, he added - a dream that has slowly become a reality.
“We have had some wonderful resources in people like Professor Antjie Krog, Wendy Woodward, Sindiwe Magona, and Meg Vandermerwe to set it in motion - talented and creative writers who are also talented and creative writing teachers...a combination not often found in the same individuals, and one that many, many fresh young creatives have come to be grateful for.”
Many past students of the UWC Creates programme have gone on to become established writers (Academic Week attendee Jolyn Phillips, for example, has had two books published in the past two years), but many other students have found a space for creative writing skills in their ordinary day-to-day lives, and found themselves better off for it.
Academic Week 2017: Learning And Sharing Together
Academic Week 2017 was intended as a space where the UWC community could come together and learn of the wonderful things happening on campus, as opposed to hearing about them a week or months after the fact..
“It’s a special occasion for me to meet with the faculties like this, and I’ve really been looking forward to all they will be sharing with us,” explained Professor Vivienne Lawack, UWC Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic, and host of Academic Week.
“I want us to be able to see one or two things about a faculty that stands out, so that as a University we may be able to learn from each other and see what works, as the different faculties show us how they make it work in their respective fields of learning.”