Prof Molly Brown appointed as new Head of the Department of English

Posted on January 22, 2015

Prof Molly Brown has been appointed Head of the Department of English, Faculty of Humanities, with effect from 1 January 2015.

Prof Brown grew up in the Eastern Cape and attended Rhodes University where, after completing her undergraduate studies, she obtained an honours degree and subsequently a master’s degree on the work of Edmund Spenser. After winning a national scholarship, she completed another master’s degree on eighteenth-century literature at Queen Marys College, London. She began her teaching career as a junior lecturer at the University of Durban-Westville before spending two years as a junior research fellow at the University of Cape Town. In 1986 she joined the University of Pretoria (UP), where she obtained the degree DLitt with her thesis titled ‘Memes, magic and the making of meaning in re-visioning fantasy for young adults’.

Although Prof Brown’s initial research interests were in the field of early modern Romance studies, she later became intrigued by how Romance tropes were being appropriated and reworked in contemporary literature, including postmodern novels, science fiction, fantasy and children’s literature. Prof Brown is currently the Vice-President (International) of the Tales after Tolkien Society, which promotes the study of Medievalism in popular culture. She publishes regularly, has presented papers at various international conferences and has successfully supervised numerous postgraduate research students.

Over time, Prof Brown’s experiences of promoting reading in schools and rearing her own children have heightened her interest in and awareness of the importance of childhood reading and the relative neglect of this activity as a research field in South Africa. Her influential article on this topic, ‘Why are South Africans frightened of tokoloshes?’, was published in The Lion and the Unicorn, probably the most prestigious journal devoted to research in children’s literature. In addition to her role as head of department, Prof Brown currently also manages the new Faculty Research Theme, ‘The child and the story’. She looks forward to promoting interdisciplinary work in this crucial area, where it is becoming more and more apparent that, as Jonathan Gottschall – drawing on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology and evolutionary biology – puts it, it is time we recognised that ‘the human mind was shaped for story so that it could be shaped by story’.

At present UP’s Department of English is ranked between 100th and 150th in the internationally recognised QS rankings. Prof Brown looks forward to the challenge of maintaining this ranking, and even improving on it. As a long-serving member of the Faculty’s Teaching Committee, she is acutely aware of the problems posed by growing student numbers, inadequate secondary schooling and shrinking budgets. Nevertheless, she believes that universities remain powerful forces for driving social change, particularly in developing countries. Her vision for her department is therefore that it should provide a diverse yet congenial and integrated environment in which the talents of all individuals, whether staff or students, can be appropriately nurtured. She would also like the department to become fully active in research, make more creative use of strategies for blended learning, and foster academic links with Africa and the rest of the world while maintaining the local and international recognition it enjoys for its research and teaching excellence.

- Author Faculty

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2024. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences