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African Literature


Why study African Literature?

The field of African Literature includes the many rich literatures of the African continent in both African and European languages. At Wits, we study African literature written in or translated into English, with an extended focus on the literature of the African diaspora. The study of African literature includes an exploration of aspects of the history, politics, intellectual traditions and cultural heritage of the diverse societies within which the literature is produced. As South Africa's links with the rest of the world continue to grow, such knowledge is increasingly invaluable. African Literature provides you with useful knowledge not only for a changing South Africa, but also for a dynamically changing landscape of global literature and culture.

Graduates in African Literature have entered the following professions: Work in cultural and non-governmental organisations, Publishing, Journalism, Law, Media and communications, University lecturing, Teaching of English, Writing.

Do I Need an African Language?

While an African language would be extremely useful, the course focuses on material written in English - which is the only language you will need to enrol in our courses.

Research Profile

The Department of African Literature was established in 1983 under the headship of Es'kia Mphahlele. It is arguably the only department of its kind in the country and probably in the world. Its undergraduate and postgraduate programmes investigate the specificity of local conditions informing the production of knowledge about African literature and cultural practices while, also, remaining cognizant of and engaging with similar developments in the black diaspora and the rest of the world. Consequently, the range of texts taught is primarily national and continental with texts from the black diaspora at the more senior levels. While its focus is largely literary, its scope includes orature, performance, media and other expressive modes within its ambit of teaching and research. This sharp and very particular constellation of its academic enterprise has given the Department a very distinct and recognized brand within the plethora of literary, cultural and area studies programmes taught in South Africa and elsewhere. The unit comprises internationally acknowledged academics with a strong record of local, continental and international publications and networks.