Research focus areas

Although specific research interests of the Department of Visual Arts are aligned with the disciplinary orientations of staff members, the general research foci that inform and feed into the teaching are postmodern theory, gender studies and popular culture; design studies; national and international contemporary visual arts; practice-led research methodologies and visual technology.


Avitha Sooful's research is invested in feminist and social political discourses inherent in South Africa.

Nicola Grobler’s research is focused on posthumanism, interspecies representations and urban ecology. Further interests include the everyday, aesthetics, agency and participation in fine art practices.

Dr Johan Thom’s research project is framed by the question of the interrelated question of the performative, material relationship between the contemporary artwork and the body. His focus is on post-Darwinian evolutionary theory, performance, post-phenomenological, post-structural approaches to the encounter between the self and the material world, unruliness and the experiential.



Dr Duncan Reyburn’s research focuses on the critique of ideology. His research interests include the theory on hermeneutics, persuasion, violence and political theology. He focuses on rhetoric, mimetic theory and the work of a range of thinkers, including René Girard, GK Chesterton, Marshall McLuhan, William Desmond, and Simone Weil.

Fatima Cassim is a specialist in design thinking. She is interested in the nature of design thinking as well as its application within a social context. Accordingly, her current research focuses on how design activism might nurture a citizen competence through design thinking. Her other research interests include social innovation, design for development and various areas of concern within design education.

Anneli Bowie is a specialist in the relationship between visual rhetoric, especially the rhetoric of Kenneth Burke, and aesthetic theory. She is also interested in contemporary design trends, visual identity and branding from a critical perspective.

Kyle Rath has a keen interest in typography and how it is mediated and interpreted as both a linguistic and non-linguistic design tool in contemporary, popular culture. He focuses on a range of theorists including Steven Heller, Ellen Lupton, Michael Rock and Theo van Leeuwen (to name a few). He is also interested in research in the field of animation, motion graphics, title sequencing and branding. 



Prof Amanda du Preez’s research is concerned with critical visual culture, feminist theory, gender, embodiment, cyber culture, the sublime, cultures of the extreme, self-portraiture, selfies and social media, place and sense of belonging, digital humanities. 

Prof Lize Kriel is interested in knowledge production in colonial contexts, and the ensuing cultures of reading, writing and printing, particularly the visuality of pre-digital epistolarity. 

Dr Jenni Lauwrens’ research interests include the disciplinary complexities wrought by the relationship between Art History and visual culture with a particular interest in how this relationship affects art education practice. Apart from an interest in ideological critiques of visual culture, she delves into theories dealing with contemporary visuality, vision, sight and the construction of seeing, particularly as such notions inform how contemporary subjectivity is understood. In her most recent research activities Lauwrens investigates the phenomenology of perception and the multisensoriality of aesthetic encounters. 

Rory du Plessis’ research is concerned with the representation and critical discourses of gender, sexuality, sexual health and mental health.

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