"Transforming aspects of 'English Studies' in South Africa"

2007. Social Dynamics 33(1): 155-179.

>This article begins with a brief survey of the different manifestations of ‘English studies’ at various South African universities, demonstrating the lack of clarity regarding the roles and responsibilities of the ‘English Department’: should it teach literature in English, or should it teach the English language? Such inconsistency makes the ‘Department of English’ as it currently exists unable to contribute towards the “intellectualisaton of African languages” (Alexander 2005) and the transformation of South Africa’s universities, particularly with regard to the use of African languages for learning and teaching. The article thus proposes that the ‘Department of English’ and the ‘Department of Literature’ should be separated. The former should take its place alongside other language departments and, at English-language universities, be primarily responsible for English language teaching and support (for those students to whom English-medium instruction presents a barrier to learning). The latter should pursue literary studies – not only ‘literatures in English’, but also texts in translation – a pursuit that calls attention to the potential for dialogue between literary texts across linguistic, ethnic and national divides.