Faculty of Humanities academics launch new publications

Posted on August 12, 2020

Tukkievaria spotlights new published work by Dr Antony Goedhals and Professor Mzikazi Nduna.

The University of Pretoria’s (UP) Faculty of Humanities is proud to announce a new publication by English Department lecturer Dr Antony Goedhals, as well as a monograph by Professor Mzikazi Nduna, an expert in the field of sexual and reproductive health and human rights.

Dr Antony Goedhals, a lecturer in the English Department at the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Humanities, recently released a book entitled The Neo-Buddhist Writings of Lafcadio Hearn: Light from the East. Lafcadio Hearn was a Victorian writer who experimented with and adopted Buddhism into his Western vision of the world, and was the subject of Dr Goedhals’s PhD.

The book explores Buddhism in both America and Japan, where Hearn spent much of his time, and provides a biographical and critical study of Hearn’s writings. While early critics have written about Hearn’s work, The Neo-Buddhist Writings of Lafcadio Hearn is the most extensive exploration of Hearn’s understanding of the world from a Buddhist viewpoint. Dr Goedhals was able to reframe and disengage his writings by reading Hearn’s oeuvre together with biographical material and the Buddhist scripts that directly influenced Hearn’s writings.

“The best and most astounding things are hidden and require passionate persistence to get at,” Dr Goedhals says. This is one of many lessons he learnt from Hearn, and one he hopes to pass on to readers.

Dr Goedhals first became interested in Hearn while researching Buddhism in Victorian and Modernist literature in the library of the Asiatic Society in Mumbai, India. He was particularly drawn to Gleanings in Buddha-Fields, one of Hearn’s most overtly Buddhist books. According to Dr Goedhals, the Victorian writer used Buddhist ideas to make sense of reality, and was one of the harbingers of the new physics of the early 20th century, as well as of some aspects of what has been called the New Age movement, which began in the wake of World War II. His work is both imaginary and realistic, often blurring the lines that are generally associated with the two concepts.

The UP lecturer plans to continue studying other artists who have contributed to a history of realism in English literature.

Another excellent book that has been recently published – this time in collaboration with UP’s Centre for Sexualities, AIDS and Gender – is A Magnifying Glass and a Fine-tooth Comb: Understanding Girls’ and Young Women’s Sexual Vulnerability by Professor Mzikazi Nduna. The prof has been involved in the field of sexual and reproductive health and human rights for more than 24 years, and is an associate at the Aids and Society Research Unit at the University of Cape Town and at Stellenbosch University’s Historical Trauma and Transformation Unit.

This is essentially an academic text, but Prof Nduna as well as the Centre for Sexualities, AIDS and Gender hope that it will appeal to the broader public. For many South African women and girls, current interventions to educate and protect sexual and reproductive rights have not considered key aspects like the “assumptions underpinning adolescent girls’ and young women’s vulnerability”, says Prof Nduna.

This book was written to address the assumptions made about sexual and reproductive health and human rights, to help readers understand themselves better, and to provide them with an opportunity to feel more comfortable with these topics. In her monograph, Prof Nduna looks at five of these assumptions, challenging beliefs on sexuality, gender and young people. She invites the reader to use these assumptions to examine the interventions and establish, for themselves, the root causes of the problems young women face today.

While researching this book, Prof Nduna worked with communities in Underberg, Estcourt, Eshowe, Greytown, Pietermaritzburg and Ermelo. She listened to the stories of both community members and researchers, and was struck by how many assumptions are made about them. In her book, Prof Nduna discusses how people are put into boxes, and how interventions are designed based on assumptions about what we think these communities need.

These interventions do not necessarily target the current issues that members in these communities face. For the professor, one of the main problems with current interventions is the quality of available information, which is shrouded in mystery and does not reflect the realities of life. If we are to make substantive progress, then young women need to feel comfortable talking about sex, sexuality and reproductive rights.

The Neo-Buddhist Writings of Lafcadio Hearn was published by Brill and can be purchased online at https://www.abebooks.com/book-search/title/buddhist-writings-lafcadio-hearn/used/ or https://www.amazon.com/Neo-Buddhist-Writings-Lafcadio-Hearn-Light/dp/9004430326

Download A Magnifying Glass and a Fine-tooth Comb: Understanding Girls’ and Young Women’s Sexual Vulnerability book free at https://www.justgender.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nduna-ebook.pdf.


- Author ​Andrea du Toit, Faculty of Humanities

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