Research themes

The expertise of our staff is wide-ranging, and includes: South, West and East African literatures, history and critical thought; creative writing and texts in performance; 19th and 20th-century poetry; black feminisms; queer studies; early modern studies, Shakespeare in the global South; postcolonial studies; decolonial theory; small magazines and African print cultures; Francophone writing; life-writing and creative non-fiction; cultural memory and trauma studies; European literary and cultural theory; and the environmental humanities.

As of 2017, members of the Department have conceptualised and run the highly successful Black Archives and Intellectual Histories seminar series, a project signalling a strong commitment to decolonial theory in African and diasporic contexts.

Researchers at UCT benefit from the many archival collections located within UCT’s Special Collections. This major research institution is located directly opposite the AC Jordan building, and postgraduate students can expect to be introduced to archival work via the wide-ranging collections here.

Find out about staff members’ recently published books.


The English Department has strong links with performance studies; film studies; creative writing; drama; historical studies; sociology; gender studies; politics; African studies; philosophy; sociology; music; art history; the medical humanities and more. Members of staff are affiliated to spaces like the African Gender Institute (AGI); the Archive and Public Culture research initiative (APC); the Centre for African Studies (CAS); the Environmental Humanities South programme (EHS); the Institute for the Creative Arts (ICA) and Michaelis School of Fine Art.

Beyond the university

We are also involved with cultural events and institutions in the wider city. These include Artscape, the Baxter Theatre, PEN South Africa, ICA Great Texts public lecture series, the Open Book and Franschhoek literary festivals.

We encourage student research relationships with IZIKO national museums, the District Six Museum, the Jewish Museum, the National Archives, the National Library of South Africa

Current staff have links to networks, publications and platforms like Agenda feminist literary journal; American Comparative Literature Association; Arden Shakespeare (Global Shakespeare Inverted book series); Anthem Studies in Global English Literatures; Chimurenga; Environmental Humanities (journal); The Johannesburg Review of Books; New Contrast; Réseau Européenne d’études littéraires comparées / European Network for Comparative Literary Studies; Safundi; scrutiny2; Shakespeare Association of America; Shakespeare Society of Southern Africa; Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER); WITS Southern Centre for Inequality Studies Collaborative Project (Theorising Intersectionality).