Message from the HOD

Prof MA Brown

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Welcome to the website of the Department of English at the University of Pretoria. We’re happy to know that you want to find out more about us and we hope that we’ll get a chance to meet you in person before too long. The Department offers a wide range of courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level although the focus of our courses is literary studies, so come prepared to read!

At the undergraduate level, we offer a broad overview of the whole field of English literary studies as well as an introduction to topics like English grammar, applied language skills and socio-linguistics. Our students read books written by British, American, African, Commonwealth and, of course, South African authors, working at very different times and in very different contexts. If you decide to study English here, you should finish your degree able to giggle at the jokes in Chaucer, sympathise with Hamlet, understand why Emily Dickinson thought much madness was ‘divinest sense’, debate the merits of writing against colonialism in a colonial language, know how to read a graphic novel and perhaps recognise some of your own experiences in the work of writers like Schreiner, Adichie or Baderoon. In short, you’ll have enriched your understanding, not just of the many Englishes co-existing in the world, but of the diverse people who have chosen to communicate through them.

Our undergraduate modules lead to the traditional major in English, which can be completed by students studying towards a BA, BA Languages or BEd degree.  Students studying for other degrees such as Law, Publishing or Psychology also often do a year or two of English to improve their reading and writing skills as well as broaden their understanding of the world. (A well-kept secret is that there is a huge demand for English specialists in fields as different as advertising, business, diplomacy, editing, the civil service, public relations, tourism, publishing, teaching and the media.)

At the postgraduate level, we offer Honours modules ranging from literary theory to period-specific papers like Medieval, Renaissance and 18th-century literature as well as modernism and postmodernism. We also offer genre, area or theme-based modules in fields such as Children’s literature and African literature. Three of our most popular Honours courses are more practical ones, namely Advanced Editing, Teaching English to Speakers of Other languages (TESOL) and Creative Writing.

When it comes to research at the master’s and doctoral level, the Department prides itself on being research active and on encouraging students to pursue their individual passions under the guidance of supervisors who share them.  We therefore offer research rather than course-based MA and PhD programmes and are even open to the possibility of long-distance supervision. Current postgraduates are working on canonical authors like T.S. Eliot and Shakespeare as well as on more unexpected topics such as African science fiction and plain language writing. The Department probably has the strongest academic presence in South Africa with regard to children’s and fantasy literature and a large number of our postgraduate students have done research and published in these fields.  Other research strengths are in areas such as Shakespeare studies, modernism, creative writing, the literature of migration, postcolonial writing and South African book history. Our postgraduate community is a lively one and our research students meet regularly to discuss research or publishing strategies, exchange ideas or just enjoy pizza. Please contact Prof, Medalie ([email protected]) or myself ([email protected]) if you want to explore postgraduate options in more detail.

Essentially, if you love words, you’ll enjoy studying with us and we’ll be delighted to share books, poems and even the occasional rap song with you, as we discover new things together.

Published by Idette Noome

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