The English Department is home to a wide range of creative and critical engagements in literary and cultural studies. Concerned with the global, the local and the decolonial, our curriculum centralises South African and African literatures while remaining in constant dialogue with international intellectual traditions, asking what it means to read canonical and world literatures from the South.
The University of Cape Town is located in one of the most culturally diverse and socially complex cities in the world. Our department’s research, teaching and archival work both reflects on and responds to our city’s history and present in all its richness and difficulty.
In our lectures and intensive small-group seminars, we welcome students from various disciplines across the university. This intellectual and creative diversity shapes our curriculum and gives our students a lively introduction to different ways of thinking, researching and writing in a twenty-first-century world. We work with the written word across a variety of literary genres, but also with other kinds of meaning-making, including images, photographs and maps, spoken word, and the creative and performing arts. In doing so, we consider the historical and social contexts that shape the meaning of texts. Our newly reimagined curriculum traces how words, images and performances are assembled, archived and placed in dialogue across space and time.
As well as an undergraduate major and Honours in English Literary Studies, the Department offers a taught MA, a research Masters (by dissertation), and a PhD. Staff and students run regular workshops for postgraduates to develop research skills, share drafts in progress and build a sense of intellectual community. Prospective postgraduate students are encouraged to browse the profile pages of our staff for more information about research interests and supervision.
Why study English Literature?
A degree in English Literary Studies prepares you for any role in which skills like close reading, clear writing and critical thinking are crucial. At the same time, literary and cultural studies is also a space for those who might not fit into narrowly vocational degrees or more focused areas of study.