2018 Departementele verslag oor Navorsinguitsette (in Afrikaans)
Divergent research interests in the Department of Afrikaans
Members of the Department of Afrikaans demonstrated their divergent research interests in the publications they have produced during the 2018 academic year. Besides several journal publications, three books were published which range from topics on the wonderment at the making of stories in novels to the retelling of autobiographical tales or the slave, Muslim roots of the Afrikaans language.
The year kicked off with Prof Willie Burger’s Die wêreld van die storie (The World of the Story) which focuses on the “worlds of stories”, i.e. how do authors create a world of the imagination in their novels? In reading stories the reader is transported to a “different” world. Burger investigates the textual strategies employed in creating these imagined worlds, their relationships within a specific text as well as within broader cultural contexts. He explores the possible reasons for the sense of wonderment the reader experiences when she/he reads a text, and tries to understand what “the world of the story” contributes to our understanding of the world around us.
Prof Hein Willemse edited a collection of autobiographical essays on the experiences of a group of hostel students at the University of the Western Cape during the 1970s. In an interview on the book, Hostel. Autobiographical Narratives of the 1975-1980 University of the Western Cape Student Generation, he recalls that all of the contributors are first generation university students who were deeply influenced by the uprisings of 1976. They came together as strangers at the residences and formed long-standing networks and friendships. The essays published in Afrikaans and English “read severally and collectively (give) a varied view of the histories, influences, experiences and transitions of a generation that unwittingly came to adulthood on the cusp of major social changes in southern Africa”.
Willemse also published a reworked, translated version of a book he co-edited in 2011, namely Achmat Davids’ The Afrikaans of the Cape Muslims. The Stigting vir die Bemagtiging deur Afrikaans (Foundation for Empowerment through Afrikaans) commissioned a reader-friendly, accessible translated version of this path-breaking book. Die Afrikaans van die Kaapse Moslems was launched at the Afrikaans Language Museum in Paarl on Reconciliation weekend, 2018. In his speech at the launch of the book Willemse pointed out that Davids’ study demonstrates that slave descendants and Muslims imams played a significant, if under-acknowledged, role in the early development of spoken and written Afrikaans in Arabic script.
Besides these publications, Dr Bibi Burger and Dr Jacomien van Niekerk published interesting research articles in a book publication entitled Dogs in Southern African Literatures. This is the first such collection of studies on dogs in southern African literatures. According to the publisher’s write-up the complex relations of dogs and people from “colonialism and indigeneity are explored, in novels and poetry” and in various South African languages. “This volume aims to start a serious conversation about, and acknowledgement of, the important place dogs have in our society.”